i was lucky enough tonight to finally make it to the first leg of the studio ghibli retrospective at the alamo drafthouse for the final screening of the restored 35mm print of hayao miyazaki's spirited away (2001).
it's the second time i was able to see it on the big screen and it was every bit as magnificent as i remembered. miyazaki's through-the-looking-glass fable remains my favorite animated film, unrivaled, even by his other fine work. the screen barely seems able to contain the imagination on display and the execution is peerless. what really makes the film for me, though, is chihiro. i just wanted to make a brief note about why i think she belongs in the pantheon of great cinematic heroes. the obvious reason would be for her purity of heart, which is considerable, but that is not why i nominate her. that is to be expected from a character like this and, while it is admirable, it is not necessarily unique, in miyazaki's universe especially. what sets her apart for me is the fact that her heroism is so deeply rooted in pragmatism. she still occasionally suffers emotional setbacks, momentarily overcome by sadness or fright, but when she's up against it she does the most heroic thing any of us can do - her best. she has the wherewithal to do all she can and the optimism to believe that it will be enough. if you could distill the essence of this character down into a gesture or movement, she is the personification of a deep breath then a step forward.
that's not to say she is a stoic. she is full of delight, comedy, wonder and adventure. those are the reasons you come to care about her and pull for her in the first place. by the time you learn what she's really made of, it's like a reward. she affirms your faith in, and affection for, her with every act of kindness, nobility and bravery. it's simply her instinct to do what needs to be done, the very definition of heroic. she will always be one of my favorites.
spirited away may have come and gone but you still have the next three weeks to catch some excellent films:
castle in the sky (1986), 2.17.12 - 2.23.12
my neighbor totoro (1988), 2.24.12 - 3.1.12
nausicaä of the valley of the wind (1984), 3.2.12 - 3.8.12
check the alamo south lamar calendar for tickets and showtimes.
see you there.