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Spirited Away


Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki 
Starring: Rumi Hiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki  
An image from Spirited Away

Winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2003 and Japan’s highest ever grossing film; Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is a feast of gorgeous animation and intelligent storytelling.

It begins with ten-year-old Chihiro and her parents moving house, when they stumble across a tunnel in the Japanese countryside leading to an old, abandoned theme park. While her parents help themselves to the contents of a seemingly deserted food stall, Chihiro explores the mysterious, dilapidated buildings. But, as night falls and ominous winds begin to blow, she returns to find mum and dad transformed into pigs. The nearby restaurants and houses gradually spur into life as ethereal spirits begin pacing the streets. Finding herself trapped, lost and alone in the spirit world, Chirhiro must work to survive and with the help of a mysterious guardian named Haku, she finds a job in the witch Yubaba’s bathhouse. It is here where Chihiro must labour to save herself from the witch’s grasp and ultimately find a way to break the spell tying her family to the spirit world.

Miyazaki’s wild imagination results in a seemingly endless number of hauntingly beautiful and stunning set pieces throughout the film as well as an entire host of memorable characters. As a result, Spirited Away is Japanese animé at its finest and is guaranteed to delight and amaze both the experienced devotees and those who have yet to embrace one of the best cinematic experiences that the East has to offer.

Liam Johnston

From the highly acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is considered by many to be his most successful film ever, having been the first anime film to win an Academy Award and the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.

Ten-year-old Chihiro (Hiragi) and her parents are driving to a new town but take an unprecedented stop at what appears to be an abandoned theme park. Sensing that they should not be there, Chihiro pleads with her parents to leave but they end up at an empty stall laden with freshly prepared food. She leaves them as they greedily help themselves and runs into a mysterious boy, Haku (Irino), who urges her to escape before it's too late. To her horror, Chihiro's parents have turned into pigs and the way back has been flooded with a vast river.

At night, the mysterious theme park becomes home to many spirits and the only way for Chihiro to get home and save her parents is to work at the bath house until Haku can help her. However, as a condition of working there, she must give up her name to the manager Yubaba (Natsuki) so she may keep her in service forever. Chihiro is renamed 'Sen' and soon becomes in danger of forgetting her own identity and being unable to ever return home.

So begins Chihiro's bizarre yet magical adventure in trying to break Yubaba's spell over her and Haku. River spirits, dragons, mysterious bouncing heads - nothing goes amiss in Spirited Away.

With a beautiful soundtrack, stunning animation and an exciting plot, Spirited Away is one film you do not want to miss. If you are unfamiliar with anime, this is the perfect place to start.

Sophie Carroll

Spirited Away is one of the finest examples of Japanese anime and was the deserved winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2003, beating better known films such as Ice Age and Lilo & Stitch.  Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away is one of the most impressive animated films of recent years although for those used to Disney productions it may take some getting used to!

The film is the story of 10 year old Chihiro, a little girl who must escape a world filled with fantastical characters and rescue her parents.  The storyline is as bizarre as it is effecting.  Chihiro and her family are on their way to their new house in the suburbs when her father decides to take a shortcut along a lonely-looking dirt road.  After getting out of the car and ending up at a collection of strange buildings which Chihiro's father takes to be an abandoned theme park, they discover an open-air restaurant filled with food but with no workers or customers.  Her Mum and Dad don't hesitate to dig in, but Chihiro senses danger and refuses.  As darkness falls, the buildings come alive with dark spirits, but when she runs to find her parents, she discovers that they have been turned into pigs and then Chihiro finds herself starting to disappear.  Things get stranger from there on…

Its epic story is more imaginative than that of the typical animated film and the excellent animation and intelligent storytelling help to create a fantastic, nightmarish world full of wonder and mystery and populated.  Spirited Away is as much about Chihiro's own evolution and strength of character as it is about the incredible creatures that surround her in her new environment.

Spirited Away is a breathtakingly magical animated fable that lifts your spirits and carries you away to a world far beyond your wildest imagination.  It may take you a while to adapt to an entirely different style of storytelling, both culturally and stylistically, but persevere and you will find this to be a hugely rewarding and uplifting film.

If you've never got into anime, then this is a pretty good place to start.

Paul Morris

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)
2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)
2013/2014 Spring Term (35mm)
2018/2019 Autumn Term (digital)
2021/2022 Autumn Term (digital)