Sometimes you like films because they’re entertaining, sometimes because they’re simply fantastic. Sometimes because they remind you of a particular person. You can like films for all sorts of reasons, and for me, Spirited Away is the movie that made me truly fall in love with not just animation, but film.
When I saw Spirited Away for the first time – at the age of nine – I was utterly blown away. I was gobsmacked by the beautiful animation that looked like a moving portrait, I was moved to tears by the emotionally resonant music, I was terrified by the wretched creatures that Chihiro encountered, and I was truly with her during her search for her parents, hoping and praying that she could find them and go home. But I knew none of that at the time. Instead, I was just purely fascinated, so much so that I remember not touching my popcorn or drink throughout the entire movie, something that I have never done before and will most definitely never do again.
There is a particular feeling that I get from watching this film, which I have only ever felt from watching other Miyazaki animations, that I can’t quite describe. If “immersion” is a feeling, that’d be the closest way to describe it, but I have never felt it as strongly than the first time I saw Spirited Away in a near-empty cinema on the outskirts of Glasgow. This film will always be imprinted in my mind, and from countless discussions with other film buffs, I’m not alone in this.