Magical is a fitting word to describe seeing Spirited Away for the first time at the City of Perth Rooftop Movies.
As the lift doors open, the sixth floor of the fluorescent-lit, grey-concrete carpark unfolds like a secret the city was keeping.
Stringed lanterns light up a scene that made us feel that we were in for something special. Once the friendly usher took our names and issued wristbands, we were led across soft astro-turf to the popcorn stand and bar.
New to Perth, my son and I were in awe at everything. We got our free popcorn and drink that came with an all night parking ticket for eight dollars.
We were then told that we could go out and come back in with food if we wanted to. AMAZING. It had been a long Monday at work and I was starving.
Couples sat and ate their takeaway pizzas. Groups of friends talked with their beers overlooking the lights of the city; much care and finesse went into Rooftop Movies, you could feel it.
So, into the lift we went and out onto the main strip of Northbridge where food choices were plenty. Returning with Malaysian noodles we settled into two spare seats near the front. Not just any seats, these were deep deck chairs facing four stacked shipment containers for which the projector had been mounted. Facing the St George tower as the shorts began, punters got comfortable with blankets and cushions brought from home.
It seemed quite surreal that the theme of Spirited Away was about a 10-year-old girl, Chihiro entering a fantasy world after getting lost on the way to her new home in Japan, as that was how I was feeling about the rooftop of Roe St carpark.
The film, released in 2001, became Japan’s most successful film and overtook Titanic at the box office. It is not hard to see why as it didn’t suffer from the regular big-budget children’s film formula. Think ‘Alice In Wonderland’ told intricately and beautifully with themes of love, heroism, Taoist religion, Japanese folk myth and life after death.
It is the kind of film I wouldn’t mind my son watching over and over as there are many layers to navigate. When the movie first came out creator of the movie, Hayao Miyazaki, was named a master storyteller and this reviewer agrees.
Characters quickly ceased to be cartoons as we follow protagonist Chihiro, who develops from an annoying whiny little girl to a hero. Despite seeming initially useless, she tackles every obstacle thrown her way once in Miyazaki’s fantastical after life to overcome a truly unfair situation and save her love, Haku.
Originally screened in Japanese, from the well-known anime outlet Studio Ghibli, Walt Disney bought the rights to render it in English. Spirited Away then won a Golden Bear and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
It is well worth as many stars as you have.
By Aleyna Martinez