A scene from Studio Ghibli's feature animated adventure, THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY, distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. © 2010 GNDHDDTW. All Rights Reserved.
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The Secret World of Arrietty (2010/2012)
Opened: 02/17/2012 Wide
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Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: Japanese Animated Adventure
Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered, where the smallest may stand tallest of all. From the legendary Studio Ghibli ("Spirited Away," "Ponyo") comes "The Secret World of Arrietty," an animated adventure based on Mary Norton's acclaimed children's book series "The Borrowers."
Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to "borrow" scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty's family from the home and straight into danger. The English language version of "The Secret World of Arrietty" was executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, and directed by Gary Rydstrom.
About the Story
"The Secret World of Arrietty" begins with adventurous 14-year-old Arrietty (voice by Bridgit Mendler), who comes from a traditional family in which mother and father (voices by Amy Poehler and Will Arnett) assume their timehonored roles and children grow up under their parents' supervision. However, they are a family of tiny people who live under the floor of an old house and survive by "borrowing" the things they need from human beings. These tiny people live carefully so as to never be seen by humans. Their way of life, which is full of wisdom and inspiration, has much in common with the way humans used to live.
Most of the things they borrow are raw materials. The family works together to modify the materials to suit their needs. Tiny people do not practice magic to achieve their borrowing objectives. They do it the old fashioned way, by getting what they need with their own ingenuity, using ropes and duct tape to climb up and down the walls and furniture. The story starts on an ordinary day in the lives of these tiny people. Then, Arrietty, a curious and sensitive girl, meets a human boy. Their friendship develops, but in the end, they are forced to go their separate ways. The tiny people must flee to the wilderness in order to be free from the dangers of callous humans.
Hayao Miyazaki elaborated on the original narrative written by Mary Norton by creating a love interest for Arrietty. He had created boy-meets-girl stories before, but this one is different. Arrietty goes to borrow a sugar cube one day and is seen by the human boy, Shawn (voice by David Henrie), who is sickly and has come to stay in the house for a week. Arrietty and Shawn become friends, but they know they aren't supposed to spend time together.
The house, where Shawn's mother grew up, is old. It is owned by the elderly Sadako and tended by her equally old housekeeper, Haru (voice by Carol Burnett).
Tiny people and human beings have lived together in this world for a very long time without troubling each other. But Shawn's goodwill alters the balance between them. Once he discovers the "borrowers," he can't help but be intrusive, and their peaceful existence begins to crumble.
"Human beings are rich in material things, but our hearts have fallen into poverty," says Japanese director Yonebayashi. "Tiny people, by contrast, remain relatively poor but have spiritually affluent lives. Suppose tiny people actually existed on Earth. Which lifestyle would you choose? And which species should survive?" the filmmaker asks.
Looking through the eyes of such tiny people, everything turns out to be brand new, even when you are in the same old world. "I felt it would make a fascinating animated film to see tiny people use their small bodies and ingenuity to survive," Hayao Miyazaki says.
Yonebayashi concludes, "I hope audiences find warmth in their hearts from experiencing this vivid new world of tiny people in 'The Secret World of Arrietty.'"