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Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi

Spirited Away

Japan 2001
produced by
Toshio Suzuki, Yasuyoshi Tokuma (executive) for Studio Ghibli, Tokuma Shoten, NTV (= Nippon Television Network), Dentsu Inc, Mitsubishi/Toho
directed by Hayao Miyazaki
starring anime
written by Hayao Miyazaki, music by Joe Hisaishi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When driving to their new home, young Chihiro and her parents stop at what appears to be an abandoned themepark, but when the parents inexplicably find tons of freshly prepared food in one of the abandoned restaurants, they immediately start to eat - like pigs. Chihiro finds the whole situation weird and refuses to eat anything, instead explores the area, pnly to bump into young Hako, who urges her to leave before nightfall, because otherwise this place would become dangerous - alas too late, night falls all too soon, weird shapes turn up, and to Chihiro's despair, her parents have turned into pigs. Hako helps Chihiro escape the weird creatures lurking around the place, and again urges her to leave, but she insists on staylng until her parents are turned back into humans and are able to return with her.

Hako gets Chihiro a job at the local Bathhouse for Gods, which is run by greedy witch Yubaba, who has turned Chihiro's parents into pigs, but at first, Chihiro proves to be nothing more than a useless klutz - that is, until she haqs to take care of a client, a Stink God, and reveals him not to be a Stink God at all but a River God. Later though she invites a No-Face into the bathhouse, a perfectly peaceful, even benign creature - except when it's in the bathhouse, where it devours customers and personnel alike and uses their greed against them ... yet it doesn't harm Chihiro because she's not greedy and has been nice to it - and thus Chihiro is able to lure the creature out of the bathhouse again, where it turns back into the nicest being their is and even spits out everybody it has devoured.

One day, Hako, who is not only Chihiro's friend but also Yubaba's number one henchman, returns from a mission to steal yubaba's twin sister Zebiba's hagic amulet - and he returns gravely wounded and Zebiba in tow, who turns Yubaba's baby into a hamster before disappearing. Chihiro, who has long fallen in love with Hako, decides she must save him at any price, and thus takes the amulet and the hamster to travel to Zebiba to urge her to help. Interestingly, Zebiba is not half as much of an evil witch as Yubaba has made her to be, and she actually agrees to all of Chihiro's demands without asking for too much - heck, she even forgives Hako for stealing her amulet.

Returning to Yubaba's place, the hamster quickly turns back into her baby, and after being pressured by pretty much everyone in her bathhouse including Hako, Yubaba agrees to turn Chihiro's parents back into humans and return them to their world ... but once back, Chihiro's parents can't remember a thing about what has happened anymore ...

By definition, Spirited Away is children's fare ... but it's also so much more, it's less of a simple film and more of an experience, a trip to a surreal world that never once seems to miss a beat and seemingly effortlessly succeeds in creating a sense of wonder only all too rarely found in children's films or even movies as such. But the film's charming story, its lo9ve for detail and its many highly original ideas see to it that the film remains unlike anything you have ever seen without becoming brain-heavy, unintelligible or boring throughout.

Easily one of the best children's movies, animated films and fantasy pictures of all time.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD