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Movie Review: Small girl hits the big screen

Valerie Dominguez
Staff Writer

From the writer of such award-winning films such as “Spirited Away” and “Ponyo,” Hayao Miyazaki gives movie-goers another emotionally-captivating animated film that expresses the important message that life should be lived to the fullest.

Based on Mary Norton’s 1952 fantasy novel “The Borrowers,” “The Secret World of Arrietty” tells the story about a 13-year-old girl who is small enough to be held in the palm of a hand.

The story follows Arrietty and her journey to self-growth as she and her family survive off borrowed materials from the house that they live under.

The film begins with Sean, a young boy with a heart condition, arriving at his caretaker’s house to be taken care of while his parents are busy going through a divorce.

When on the front porch, Sean’s attention is brought to the house cat growling at a bush in the garden.

After briefly seeing Arrietty in the bush running away, Sean becomes determined to see her again.

This brings trouble to Arrietty because a borrower cannot be seen.

If seen, a borrower must move to another house.

Sean’s acceptance of life and death brought the realistic view that a person cannot live forever.

I left the theater with a new insight on life and how it should not be taken for granted.

“Arrietty” strays far from Norton’s original plot.

In the novel, a human sees the father whereas in the film Arrietty is the one seen by the human.

By making Arrietty the borrower at fault, it shows the audience that she will be the protagonist of the film.

In the book it says that they had family in another house, but in the film Arrietty and her family believe they are the only ‘little people’ left.

This added a sense of urgency to the situation the little family was in.

One of the things that were accurate to the book was the concept of friendship represented through Sean and Arrietty.

This friendship was made the key theme in the film instead of the initial theme of the book, which was survival.

The animation of the film was similar to the animation of “Spirited Away.”

The colors were vibrant and yet dull at the same time to show the simplicity of the film.

In “Spirited Away,” the characters had the same features as the characters in “The Secret World of Arrietty”: big animated eyes and rosy cheeks.

The movie was translated from Japanese to English for American audiences to enjoy.

Overall, this movie was a beautiful family film that captured the heart of audiences.

Valerie Dominguez can be reached at

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