View Full Version : The Cultural Gap - Is This a Problem?

09-26-2002, 01:46 AM
Here's a copy of my IMDB/Amazon review of spirited away:
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (http://us.imdb.com/CommentsShow?245429-44)

There has been comment about some parts of Spirited Away's being "lost in the cultural translation." As you can see from my review, I think the culture gap is part of the movie's appeal.

When we watch a foreign film, we are, in a way, tourists - cultural tourists, if you will. Most tourists sit in their buses and watch scenes pass across their windows. These tourists are learning nothing, they are comparing what they see with their own experience, as if their own experience were the benchmark. They have no interest in participating in that other world, they are back home watching TV: "I like this, I don't like that."

Spirited Away invites you to shed your cultural baggage, to witness things you have neither witnessed before nor understand - at least you don't understand them directly or in any way you can articulate, even to yourself. To enjoy a film like Spirited Away you must get off the bus and walk down the narrow side streets, listening to the locals, even if you don't understand the language. Try to find meaning in the aesthetics, the body language and faces, in the tones and timbres of the voices, in the way the people and their environments interact.

And I say interact because Spirited Away's director Hayao Miyazaki obviously wants us to understand, that the interaction between people and their environment is two-way. Perhaps this is the most alien of this film's exotica: our environment indeed reacts to us, just as we react to it; the environment's reaction to us is not immediate (though it is in the film), but it's much more profound than we appreciate, as are the worlds of the foreign lands we visit and then regard as extensions of our own superficial, TV-addled world.

Another criticism I have read is, that the ending was "weak". I think this refers to the fact, that there was no denoument to speak of. I think this is because the end of the movie is not the end of the story. It sounds to me like the two protagonists fully intend to meet again for further romance and adventure.

I certainly hope so, for all the exotica and arcania I encountered in Spirited Away didn't alienate me from it at all. On the contrary, I was intrigued and captivated. I want more!

11-19-2002, 01:43 AM
Interestingly enough, I read an article a few weeks ago by Miyazaki himself that was a commentary on how the variant of Japanese society that was shown in Sen/Chihiro was, in fact, foreign to most Japanese children, but, when the adults who came closer to approaching Miyazaki's age viewed it, they literally broke down into tears because of the nostalgia that they were feeling as they viewed a commentary not only on what is, but what was and has passed. It's somethnig to think on that a film can do that, and that this is not the first time that one of Miyazaki's films has caused audiences to break into tears. See Grave of the Fireflies and you'll see Ghibli's powers as film-makers in its raw form. Bring a hankie, though. I'm the only person I've known who hasn't shed a tear at the first instance of viewing that film.

oscar jubis
11-30-2002, 08:48 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Inu_Ranma
See Grave of the Fireflies and you'll see Ghibli's powers as film-makers in its raw form.[/QUOTE
Roger Ebert's inclusion of GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES amongs his BEST 100 EVER resulted in it being released on DVD in the U.S. It contains the original and dubbed versions and Ebert's commentary. I urge everybody to see it.
Big thumbs down to Disney for failing to properly market and promote SPIRITED AWAY. Also, they decided to add a line or two of dialogue in the dubbed version(the final exchange between Chihiro and her mom) to clarify the story's meaning(Chihiro's rites of passage). Totally condescending.
Somebody who shares my love for GRAVE recommended BAREFOOT GEN. Have you seen it?