As an Academy Award winner and highest grossing Japanese film of all time, Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away won the hearts of audiences around the world. We fall in love with this masterpiece again, and share with you little-known facts about it. And if you have not seen this movie yet, we advise you to start watching immediately! Even not fans of anime, he will conquer the first time.
The film was created without a script
Despite a well-developed plot, rich in versatile characters, the film was not created with a script. In fact, Miyazaki's films never had scripts. “I usually don't have time. So the story develops when I start drawing the storyboards. " Miyazaki doesn't know how the plot will develop, and he allows it to happen organically. “It's not me who makes the film. The film is self-made and I have no choice but to follow it."
Miyazaki did everything
Miyazaki wrote, directed and drew storyboards for the film; essentially making a movie with drawings. When you look at a picture, you see the work and vision of one person. The director is so influential and involved in the production that a New Yorker once called him an "anime writer."
Chihiro was inspired by the daughter of one of the director's friends
After announcing his retirement in 1997, the director took the friends to his mountain hut. His friend's daughter and her peers inspired Miyazaki, as they were on the verge of adolescence and extremely apathetic. The author decided that he needed to make a film for ordinary ten-year-olds. The protagonist had to be ordinary, without any special abilities or traits. The girls needed a person with whom they could communicate and show them that they can also be heroines. The main character, Chihiro, was made in the image and likeness of just such girls. “Every time I wrote or drew something related to Chihiro's character and actions, I wondered if my friend's daughter or her friends could do it,” Miyazaki explained.
Small details make everything real
Miyazaki is often praised for making great, immersive films that feel almost real. Part of the reason for this is the close attention to detail. Small moments, such as dirt on the soles of the feet, chopsticks falling on impact, or lightning catching sunlight contribute to the overall feel of the painting. At the beginning of the film, when Chihiro's father states that he has four-wheel drive, he proves it! He is driving a first-generation Audi A4 sedan complete with the trademark Quattro all-wheel drive system.
This attention to detail is also a useful tool for character development. Chihiro is supposed to be a typical ten year old, so she behaves like that. When she puts on her shoes, she does so with extreme care and taps the toe of each shoe to make sure it fits well. In another scene, the girl's parents call her, but she does not answer until the second time; many of the film staff even suggested that she not respond until the third time due to the indifferent nature of the young girls.
The spirit of the river was inspired by Miyazaki's own experience of cleansing the river
In one scene, the "spirit of the garbage dump" comes to the bathhouse to wash. Chihiro finds a bicycle handle sticking out from under the shaking thing. By wrapping a rope around the handle and pulling it out, the gummy beast turns out to be the spirit of a polluted river. This scene is actually based on real experience. “I once cleared the river,” Miyazaki said. “This was my local river. And there really was a bicycle in it. He's stuck there. Ten of us wrapped the rope around the rods and slowly pulled him out. We really cleared the river and the fish returned. That's why I added this scene."
Little extra scenes are called "ma"
Quiet scenes of inactivity, when the character can look away or sit silently, are common in Miyazaki's films. In an interview, he explained their usefulness: “If you just have non-stop action without respite, it's just a series of events. But if you spend a little time, then the building tension in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you have a constant voltage of 80 degrees all the time, then you will just go numb."
The names of the characters reflect their essence
Boh means little boy or son, Kamaji means old cauldron, Yubaba means bath witch, and Zeniba means money witch. The neroine's name Chihiro means a thousand seekers, while her working name Sen means just a thousand.
Miyazaki explained how many scenes to animate using animal analogies
To help the animators understand how the characters moved, Miyazaki asked them to draw inspiration from animals. Explaining the scene where the injured Haku falls into the boiler room, the director uses three animals to describe the action. The dragon clings to the wall like a gecko before falling to the ground like a snake. When Chihiro feeds Haku with medicine, Miyazaki asks the animators to use the dog's mouth as a model. No one on the team had a dog, so they went with a camera to the veterinary clinic.
A dialogue was added to clarify some elements in the version for a foreign audience
There is a moment in the "non-Japanese" version where Chihiro tells what she sees or what is happening. This was added and was not part of the original. In one interview, Miyazaki explained that this was a necessary addition to help clarify certain elements for an overseas audience. For example, what is clearly a bathhouse for a Japanese viewer may not be obvious to, for example, an American viewer, so this problem was corrected by having the character explain, "Oh, it's a bath."
You can visit locations from the movie in real life
The busy streets and elaborate film bathhouse can thank downtown Chiufen for its beautiful design. Here you can find familiar sights and sounds that recall the bustling spirit of the city. It is said that Miyazaki visited the popular teahouse during his stay there, which is featured in the film as a bathhouse. If you ever find yourself in Taiwan, you should definitely visit all the magical places of this painting.