Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on May 3rd, 2003
Chihiro is a ten-year-old girl moving to a new home. On the way there, her father takes awrong turn, and they find themselves in an abandoned amusement park. I really don’t want tosay too much, as this is a film whose wonders should be discovered without too muchforeknowledge. Suffice to say that Chihiro soon finds herself in a magical world of spirits,striving to free herself, her parents, and a new friend. Spirited Away is a stunning film, worthyof comparison to Alice in Wonderla…d and other children’s classics, and I don’t mean just otherfilms, either. The witch queen looks like something out of a John Tenniel illustration. The filmmight be too frightening for very young children (especially in the first half-hour), but everyoneelse is in for an unforgettable treat. This is a masterpiece.
At last, a dubbing job that doesn’t hurt the film. Both the English and Japanese tracks arein 5.1, and either one perfectly complements the gorgeous visuals. Some of the Japanese dialoguehas a more powerful sound effects (such as the echo in the tunnel early in the film), but bothtracks are crystal clear. The separation of the sound effects is terrific, and the music is just asfine. The sense of environment is near total. A spectacular job.
The film is a treat for the eyes, and the transfer does it full justice. Spirited Away looks asgood on DVD as it did in the theatres, with the colours perfectly rendered, zero grain andflicker, and perfect blacks. A pristine print and a well nigh perfect transfer are what we havehere.
Not to sound churlish, but the number of features did not warrant a 2-disc set. Disc 1 has ashort intro by US director John Lasseter, a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki, and “The Art of SpiritedAway” — a 15-minute featurette, largely promotional but still informative, and shows howcarefully the film was translated into English. Disc 2 has a short featurette on the English voiceactors, a storyboard-to-scene comparison (flip back and forth using the Angle button on yourremote), the original Japanese trailers, and a 40-minute documentary on Miyazaki produced byJapanese TV (and this is a fascinating piece). The menu’s main page, intro and transitions arescored and animated, and there are some liner notes.
Fox may have beaten Disney to the punch when it comes to Miyazaki films on DVD, whatwith My Neighbor Totoro being already out for months. But Disney’s release treats the film withthe respect it deserves.
Special Features List
- The Art of Spirited Away
- Introduction by John Lasseter
- Japanese TV Special
- Storyboard-to-Scene Comparisons
- Original Japanese Trailers
- “Behind the Microphone” Featurette