MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
TONARI NO TOTORO
1988, Studio Ghibli, 86 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

The third Studio Ghibli feature from former Toei animator turned writer-producer-director-entrepreneur Hayao Miyazaki tells the story of young sisters Satsuki and Mei Kusakabe, who move with their father into a new house near a vast forest, in order to be closer to their ailing, hospitalized mother. Discovering wondrous forest spirits, they also encounter Totoro, a giant, lumbering, bunny-esque creature. "Here is a children's film made for the world we should live in, rather than the one we occupy. A film with no villains. No fight scenes. No evil adults. No fighting between the two kids. No scary monsters. No darkness before the dawn. A world that is benign. A world where, if you meet a strange towering creature in the forest, you curl up on its tummy and have a nap. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO has become one of the most beloved of all family films without ever having been much promoted or advertised." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


SPIRITED AWAY
SEN TO CHIHIRO NO KAMIKAKUSHI
2001, Studio Ghibli, 125 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning masterpiece was the biggest box office hit of all time in Japan and helped redefine the possibilities of animation for American audiences and a generation of new filmmakers. Wandering through an abandoned carnival site, 10-year-old Chichiro is separated from her parents and stumbles into a dreamlike spirit world, where she is put to work in a bathhouse for the gods, a place where all kinds of nonhuman beings come to refresh, relax and recharge. Here she encounters a vast menagerie of impossibly inventive characters - shape-shifting phantoms and spirits, some friendly, some less so - and must find the inner strength to outsmart her captors and return to her family. Combining Japanese mythology with Through the Looking Glass-type whimsy, SPIRITED AWAY cemented Miyazaki’s reputation as an icon of inspired animation and wondrous, lyrical storytelling. “Prepare to be astonished.” - Los Angeles Times “Epic and marvelous! Phantasmagoric!” - New York Times “One of the year’s best films!” - Roger Ebert.


NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND
KAZE NO TANI NO NAUSHIKA
1984, Studio Ghibli, 116 min, Japan, Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

This first of many triumphs for Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is set a thousand years after a nuclear holocaust has gutted the globe. After the death of her father and an attack by the hostile Tormekia, Princess Nausicaa must use her uncanny ability to communicate with the giant crustacean Ohmu to unite her people against the threat of annihilation. Based on the manga of the same name, and using Miyazaki’s distinct stylistic flare for the dreamlike and fantastical, the film also inaugurates Miyazaki’s enduring collaboration and friendship with composer Joe Hisaishi. Its visually breathtaking, truly dexterous animation is more than worthy of a repeat viewing, let alone a first.


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