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Techniques Used in Spirited Away

By nycl0128 Nov 14, 2010 1113 Words
Construction of Environmentalism

Spirited Away examines the consequences of actions that alter the natural world in destructive ways. Haku and the ancient river spirit represent these consequences most dramatically. Haku lost his home because his river was paved over to build an apartment complex, and the ancient river spirit at first seems to be a stink spirit because it’s so polluted. The abandoned amusement park at the beginning of the movie is linked to the issue of land management. Chihiro’s father notes that many theme parks were built in Japan during the boom times, and they were abandoned when the economy went bad. As a result, unsightly, false landscapes dot the countryside. Self-pollution, a more personal aspect of environmentalism, occurs through No-Face’s and Chihiro’s parents’ over-consumption of food. Haku, too, is polluted by Yubaba’s slug. Environmentalism is a familiar motif in Miyazaki’s films, and critiquing the consequences of development and pollution through animated characters sheds new and unusual light on these issues

Connstruction of Good and Evil
In Spirited Away, every character is a mix of good and bad qualities and actions. Even those who seem good at first, such as Haku and No-Face, have their share of evil qualities. By the same token, those who seem bad in the beginning, such as Zeniba, Kamaji, and Lin, become instrumental in Chihiro’s escape. Chihiro herself is extremely unpleasant at first, and she reveals her better nature only after she becomes Sen. Spirited Away’s blurred line between good and evil is a much more accurate reflection of the real world outside the film. In the end, evil is not vanquished but pushed aside as characters make choices that weaken bad influences. These choices have a ripple effect: Sen’s acts of goodness bring out the latent good in those she encounters. The only character who seems to remain unchanged by Sen’s example is Yubaba, but even Yubaba has qualities, such as her love for Boh, that keep her from being an absolute villain. This theme is unusual for an animated film, as most films in the genre clearly divide good and evil.

Symbols
Water
Just as food plays contradictory roles in Spirited Away, water represents entrapment and freedom, life and death. When Chihiro tries to escape the abandoned theme park, she discovers that the previously dry ground is now a huge body of water she can’t cross. In order to survive in the spirit world, Sen works at the bathhouse, which depends on water for its livelihood. In the course of Sen’s work, she rescues a polluted river spirit by pouring liberal amounts of water over him. Sen nearly drowns in the process, but the spirit places her in a protective bubble that keeps her from harm, and this and other acts of kindness play a role in her liberation. Later, Sen releases Haku from his imprisonment when she realizes he is really a river spirit. Her assistance is a kind of repayment, as years before Haku saved Chihiro from drowning after she fell into a river.

Foreshadowing
 · Chihiro’s dad telling Chihiro and her mother not to worry that he’s driving dangerously because he has four wheel drive. Along the same lines, a few minutes later he says not to worry about eating the food because he has credit cards and cash. Both of these events foreshadow Chihiro being left to rely on her own character and devices.

 · Chihiro’s parents grunting as they begin eating, which foreshadows them turning into pigs.

 Camera angles and film techniques play a large part of making Spirited Away a successful film. Camera angles can convey to the viewer many things about the scene or character. One example of a camera angle is towards the end of the film when the family is walking back to the car in the tunnel. The camera zooms in on the feet and the confident steps that she makes. This is a contrast to the beginning when she was scared in the tunnel.

The music also plays a large part in the success of the film. The music conveys the feelings of fear, joy, and relief to the audience. One part where music plays vital role is at the beginning, just after she discovered her parents have turned into pigs and she is alone surrounded by dark spirits rising out of the earth. The music conveys the fear from the 10-year-old into the audience.

The morning after, Haku wakes Sen and leads her to the pigpen where her parents are kept. Upon seeing the two sleeping pigs that are her parents, Sen rushes over and calls out, “mother, father! It’s me! It’s S-Sen!”1 Her stutter is extremely significant, as Sen hesitates for a split second about her name.The difference of stutter between when Haku asked for her name and when she is calling out to her parents. While in the former situation Chihiro is aware of her true name, she is convinced the day after that Sen had been her name all along. Although she feels a drive to rescue her parents, she no longer remembers why, how, or where she is from. Instead of saying “I’m going to save you so we can go home,” she says “Don’t eat too much or they’ll eat you,” which shows a difference in perception already. Sen has already come to accept 1 The stuttering is noticed only in the Japanese release of Spirited Away, not in the American Disney release that she is a part of this world, and although oppressed, seeks escape for her and her parental swine. But for what reason? She is reminded by the card that her friends gave her. Inside the pocket of her shorts, the card from her friends reminded Sen that she had a real name – Chihiro. To be reminded of her true name was enough for her to remember of her past and purpose. She also becomes aware of the plight of Haku, who can no longer remember his name, and therefore remains a prisoner of Yu-Baaba. The card that her friends gave her, in this sense, is a symbol for remembrance and of lasting memories. Now that Sen has regained knowledge of Chihiro, the weakness that she used to exhibit is replaced with courage and a sense of responsibility, which also frees her from Yu-Baaba’s mind-washing control. A now accepting and courageous Sen shows her valiance while serving her first customer – a giant stink spirit.

Lighting and Music
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