Spirited Away opened in Japan on July 27th, 2001, by Toho, making 229,607,878 and became one of the most highest grossing film’s in Japanese history, and was the first film make 200 million at the worldwide box office before It opened in the United States. Spirited Away was based off Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island, and off Hayaou Miyazaki’s own manga, created by himself. It’s also the second of his works to win the equivalent of the Academy Award for Best Picture in Japan. Because of how popular manga is in Japan, it makes it possible for these awards to be won by works that are manga, unlike in the United States. Spirited Away made more than Titanic made, and in Japan, it was the first film to show in the U.S. Spirited Away was put into English by Walt Disney pictures, with John Lasseter who helped with the production. The dubbed version was premiered by the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th, in 2002.
The time and work that was put into Spirited Away is mind-blowing. Not only that, but the story and imagination used gives a more powerful story and helps bring the viewer along through the story. The are many different being’s and creature’s in this story, his imagination never stops. Spirited Away had 24 frames per second, and was a 124 minute movie, and Miyazaki hand-drew thousands of frame’s on his own. The whole movie is mostly hand drawn, because Miyazaki didn’t want to take over the movie, he wanted it to enhance it. So Miyazaki didn’t use a lot of technology, he only used enough to help the progress move on and enrich the look of it. Miyazaki worked with Studio Gibli on the computer animation and software, but still made sure to keep the level of technology used at a minimum. One program they used was Softimage. Miyazaki wanted the animation to be simple, but at the same time providing enough detail for the film to move through the story. He often adds characters in the background yawning, sighs, or gaze at a running stream, just to give it something extra. One scene is an example when they’re showing the look of the entire bathhouse. It would have been easier to only show the entrance or a small part of it, instead he chooses to incorporate the whole bathhouse into the image. He focus’s a lot of his energy into the less significant parts of the frame. His backgrounds have a lot of detail in them, and everything is drawn with a lot of attention. He did not want the main character “Chihiro,” to be a pretty girl or stuck up girl. In the beginning of the film he makes her act spoiled, but she learns throughout the movie the act of hard work. A lot of critics call her sullen, and impatient, like when she’s stuck in the backseat of the car during the drive to her house. Chihiro never becomes a good or nice girl, but her determination makes the viewers fall in love with her.
One of the biggest difficulties for Miyazaki while making this film was the reduce it’s length. Originally, when he first started it he realized that it would be 3 hours long, so he had to delete many scenes that were in the story. He also helped to personally chose the voice cast, personally attending every voice taping session and it was not uncommon for him to work till 2 or 3 in the morning for months on end. Miyazaki made the film inspired off of objects in real life. Some of the building’s that were in the spirit world were based off the real life Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum in Koganei, Tokyo. During production of the film he often visited this museum for inspiration. Spirited Away adopted a more westernized look to the animation. The style came from the post WWII occupation of Japan, which was inspired by the American adventure based comic books.
After he released Spirited Away in 2011, Miyazaki hinted that this would be his final picture. Miyazaki is very popular in Japan, and is a very loved figure along with all of his works. So when he announced his retirement it came as a surprise to everyone. One of the main reasons why Miyazaki decided to retire was because he couldn’t give his ideas to other animators and staff to create and have them represent his interpretations correctly, or the way he wanted them to. They couldn’t picture what he requested because they had limited visions.
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