Spirited Away, Essential Revision Notes
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In 2003, Spirited Away was the first anime film (Japanese animated movie) to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. For many Americans, the director, Hayao Miyazaki, was an unknown despite the fact that his seven previous full-length animated features had made him a household name in Japan. Disney Studios had tried in the past to expand Miyazaki’s American audience, and in 1996 negotiated with Miyazaki and his animation company, Studio Ghibli, to bring nine of their films into wide release for English-speaking audiences. The first film to be distributed was Princess Mononoke, which succeeded critically but failed at the box office. Disney was reluctant to release any more Studio Ghibli films – until the success of Spirited Away. The film’s fine storytelling and breath-taking animation made it the highest grossing movie of all time in Japan, and Disney hoped it would create wider appeal for Japanese anime in the U.S.
Born in Japan on January 5, 1941, Hayao Miyazaki grew up in the shadow of World War II. Miyazaki’s father, Katsuji, headed the family’s airplane factory, which produced wingtips for Zero fighters. The factory made his family wealthy, but Miyazaki was ashamed that his family profited from the war when so many others suffered. In 1944 the entire family was forced to evacuate the city and flee to the country, and afte...