Kyle Cubr reviews “My Neighbor Tortoro” for Cine-File Chicago

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The seminal Studio Ghibli film MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is one of director Hayao Miyazaki’s most beloved and celebrated. Thought-provoking and poignant, Miyazaki’s fourth feature is an enchanting, hand-drawn masterpiece that demonstrates his creative passion. Mei and Satsuki, the two female protagonists, are perfect vehicles to allow the viewer to see the world through the eyes of children. The film does not rely on traditional narrative structure, where conflicts arise and obstacles must be overcome. Instead, Miyazaki appeals to the viewer to live in the now much like a child would. Both the pain and elation that Chika Sakamoto (Mei) and Noriko Hidaka (Satsuki) emote through their voice acting is palpable in every scene. From this vantage point, a feeling of wonderment occurs, and the dazzling animation invites a sense of nostalgia. This perspective makes it easy to believe that the strange magical spirit Totoro, his band, and the soot spirits are all very real. While these creatures may only be symbolic of nature (the wind, why plants grow, etc.), they serve as a source of comfort and hope for the two girls. Miyazaki’s animation is bright and vivid–an homage to rural life–and the mystical quality of the film is bolstered by Joe Hisaishi’s uplifting score. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is a beautiful tale about love, family, and hope that makes for joyous viewing for people of all ages.

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