Spirited Away – 8/10.

Alice in communist wonderland occupied by ghosts.


It is difficult for me to talk about this movie with any confidence as I know absolutely nothing about Japanese animation at all but I can safely say Spirited Away is an innovative, unique treat even when compared to its Western counterparts. The only other animated film to better it in terms of imagination and sheer genius is WALL•E and while I hold the Toy Story series in the highest regard, Spirited Away is more ambitious.

While I have always praised the Pixar films for being just as accessible for adults as they are for children, Spirited Away takes this concept to the next level. Much more Return to Oz than The Wizard of Oz, closer to Pan’s Labyrinth than to Labyrinth, Spirited Away is a dark and adult film with a feel for the grotesque unmatched in animation since Ren and Stimpy. It is definitely weird, as is the (cliched) expectation for all Japanese cinema, but crucially it never feels over the top or odd for the sake of it. Instead this is high art rendered in animation and disguised as a children’s fable.

In fifty years time when people ask what was the greatest animated feature of the 21st century the answer will be WALL•E but Spirited Away will be a close second.

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