Spirited Away (2001)

by British Film Critic

I can honestly say Spirited Away is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen, and far from just on a visual level. This film is beautiful in its unspoken storytelling, it’s beautiful in its world-building, it’s beautiful in its rich atmosphere, it’s beautiful in its subtle commentary’s on human nature and society, and it’s beautiful for so many more reasons. Spirited Away is a beautiful film, and that’s all it needed to be, and yet it’s so so much more.

Whilst in Totoro, Miyazaki presents a familiar human world with fantastical elements, in this film, Miyazaki has faith in the viewer to be capable of absorbing the weird and wonderful quirks of the film’s fantastical world, whilst always maintaining the human elements and subsequent commentary. He has never struggled with introducing bold new characters, mythologies, and worlds, but in Spirited Away, it is all done with such prestige and on such a large scale that you can’t help but be entirely absorbed by it.

When I said Spirited Away was beautiful on more levels than simply its cinematography, I wasn’t lying, but when I say this film is visually beautiful, I mean it is something else. This movie is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous looking films I have ever seen – not only is Miyazaki’s visual storytelling compelling, and in some instances utterly breathtaking in its intuition, but the entirety of the film is so colourful, detailed, lively and beautifully composed that you will never find yourself not in awe at the visuals on show. As would be expected, the creativity of the charming character designs is fascinating, along with the elaborate, inspired imagery that perfectly captures Miyazaki’s infamous surreal direction in all the best ways.

I could honestly write about this incredible film forever and ever, but it honestly has to be experienced first hand. Spirited Away deserves all the praise it has received over the years, and then some, easily taking the top spot of my all-time favourite animated films.