Tag Archives: The Secret World of Arrietty

The Secret World of Arrietty Heads To DVD and BLU-RAY

One of the years most gorgeous films, The Secret World of Arriety, a film from Studio Ghibli, is heading to a special DVD and Blu-ray combo back in May.

The film is based on the book series, “The Borrowers” written by Mary Norton. The film includes timeless themes such as friendship, courage, and determination.

Finally, on May 22, 2012 Walt Disney Studios and Studio Ghibli will release The Secret World of Arrietty on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD.

The voice cast includes stars such as Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Bridgit Mendler, Moises Arias, David Henrie and the iconic and much beloved Carol Burnett.

The two disc combo pack includes tons of bonus features such as:

·       Storyboard presentation of the film

·       Original Japanese Trailers and Television Commercials

·        “Summertime” Music Video – Performed by Bridgit Mendler, the speaking voice of Arrietty.

·       The Making Of “Summertime” Behind the Scenes – Bridgit Mendler hosts a look at the making of themusic video.

·       “Arrietty’s Song” Music Video – Experience the movie’s theme song, performed by innovative singer and harpist Cécile Corbel, who also wrote the lyrics.

1-Disc DVD: (1 DVD)

·       “Summertime” Music Video

·        The Making Of “Summertime”

The official film synopsis is as follows:

Residing quietly beneath the floorboards are little people who live undetected in a secret world to be discovered. Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler), a tiny, but tenacious 14-year-old, lives with her parents (voices of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voice of Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty (AIR-ee-ett-ee) remains hidden from view, except during occasionalcovert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts.

But when 12-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger. From the legendary Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”) comes “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an animated adventure based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers.”

Discover The (Gorgeous) Secret World of Arrietty – A Review

Why are you interested in this adaptation?


The real question is why would I NOT be interested in this movie?

I love animated films.  And by animated I mean cartoons. Anime is one of the few remaining sources for old-school animation, and it’s also essentially the only place you find animation for adults that is therefore moving the techniques and aesthetics of the medium forward still.

I also enjoy anime as a genre, although I never really go out of my way to find it…but when it comes to me, I see it and enjoy.

To the final relevant point in this discussion, I enjoy fairy tale/folk tale type stories, especially new ones (either new to me or original stories in that vein), and the idea of a world of little people who live in a small corner of our world is right along the traditional folk lines.


Sure, I read the plethora of novels about small things when I was a kid (The Borrowers, Indian in the Cupboard, etc.) but I’m in this for Studio Ghibli. I pretty much love Every. Single. Thing. Ghibli has ever produced. (Except Tales from Earthsea, but we can talk about that later…)

They’re just sooo friggin beautiful! And there are lots of girl heroes! The stories are also much more varied than the Disney offerings of the last 15 years, and I really appreciate that. I didn’t discover Ghibli until college, but I was an instant convert.

If you’ve never heard of Studio Ghibli or its founder, Hayao Miyazaki, you probably remember Spirited Away winning an Oscar about 10 years ago, or you’ve seen the Ghibli character of Totoro making cameos in a few Pixar films. Suffice it to say, Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli are extremely influential, and to call him the Japanese Disney is at once accurate and entirely misleading.

And yes, my favorite is Nausicaa. People are never surprised by this.


I would like to point out another instance of my growing up under a rock: I had no idea what The Borrowers book series was until after I had seen this movie when I was recommending it to a friend and she was all, “Oh, I wonder if it was based on The Borrowers books?”

And for the record Howl’s Moving Castle is probably my personal favorite Ghibli film, but that’s probably just because it’s so abstract and weird, especially in the middle.


What would make it awesome?


I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve purposefully only seen the teaser trailer. I know it’s beautiful already, and I won’t be disappointed there. I also know it won’t follow The Borrowers‘ plot even though some of the names are the same. The teaser trailer doesn’t really let you know any plot details, so I can’t point to any specifics. I assume the Borrowers will be discovered, and there will be an escape of some kind.

I’m also looking forward to the soundtrack and even the sound editing, which in Ghibli films is always excellent. Judging from the teaser trailer and posters this is going to be a nature-heavy film (most of them are, but I’m thinking of My Neighbor Totoro especially), and I’m looking forward to seeing the fruits of the extensive research Miyazaki and his team have obviously done.


I am going to take this question as, what would make it not just good but FUCKING GOOD.  To that end…if the animation is really creative and proves why this has to be a 2-d animation movie.  What I mean by this…there were scenes in some of the Cowboy Bebop episodes that literally could not be filmed in live action.  The angles and perspectives were just too extreme.  That is pushing animation as a film technique forward.  If this movie has that kind of A-game animation, and a really good and original story, then it will be off the chain.

At this point with the track record Rachel and I have had on watching movies together, I’ll settle for just a really good and slightly original story!


What would make it suck?


I don’t really think there’s a lot of feasible ways to make this film terrible.  Maybe if they just rewrote the story of the original and were working with either a spliced version of the visuals or trying to fit a new story onto the original animation.

But if they’re working with the original movie (which is highly acclaimed and would not be chosen for export if it were not solid), just dubbed in English, there’s nothing that will make this awful short of using Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Drescher as the voice talent.


Before I had seen Tales from Earthsea, I would have said with great confidence that no Studio Ghibli film could ever disappoint me, but Miyazaki’s son definitely did that with Earthsea. There’s some drama behind that film (it led to a feud between father and son because Hayao didn’t think his son Goro was ready to direct, and the film was based upon not just Ursula Le Guin’s novels but also Hayao’s manga. You can see how things got touchy). While Tales from Earthsea had the quality animation we’ve all come to expect from Studio Ghibli, it was a rambling, incoherent mess. It suffered from too much going on, the type of interrupted plot lines you get when you watch condensed film versions of really long anime series.

I hope the story is simple. That’s what Studio Ghibli excels at.


Thoughts on casting/production?


While Hayao Miyazaki’s name is attached to Arrietty, he is not directing it. He did write the screenplay and is involved in production, so I am confident that this won’t be another Tales from Earthsea.

I am disappointed in the fact that I’ll be watching a US-specific dubbing when I see it in the theater. In general, I find the Disney-lead American dubs to be more about using famous voices to get American parents to see a film with their children than picking good voice actors. In fact, they generally don’t even use professional voice actors at all, which is really disappointing! The US dub features Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, and Carol Burnett. A more inspired casting than, say…Christian Bale in Howl’s Moving Castle…but I’ll bet the UK version will be better. (Although…Christian Bale could technically be the UK dub of that one, except I don’t believe they did region specific dubbing on that film, just Japanese and English)


I…didn’t even bother to watch the trailer.  I read the synopsis and country of origin and knew I wanted to see it.  I actually don’t want to go into the film with any expectations—I think in this case a blank slate might be better for me—so, long story short, no, I have no additional thoughts about this production before I see it.


Reaction to film:



Legit. Look at this. LOOK AT IT.

The dubbing was fine; there really wasn’t all that much dialogue to begin with. I was having little artgasms examining all the scenes filled with random bits of stuff and trash that the Borrowers had converted into useful objects. Just looking in the corners of their home was worth the ungodly price of NYC admission. It really was.

I loved how ridiculously brave Arrietty was. It was a wonderful counter to the careful details that really made the audience FEEL how being that small must feel. Simple human movements became lumbering, clumsy and ominous. And yet when confronted by cats, insects, chasms and heart stopping realizations, Arrietty just stood and faced it. NO. FEAR. It was just amazing. The boy that the lonely Arrietty befriends, Shaun in the American dub (Sho in the Japanese version), was kind of horribly creepy. But I liked that. He wasn’t charming or really that endearing. He was almost zombie-like in the way he moved around the house and how he just sat, unmoving. He came across as a very sick and lonely boy with no one to talk to and not very much to say anyways. But his intentions were good, if misguided. But yea, that scene (that I now know is in the official Trailer because I watched it) when Arrietty and her father and taking tissue and she realizes Shaun is just STARING at her…that was terrifying!

I also liked the sad little ending. The two new friends must part, never to meet again, but you know that Arrietty will continue her adventures and you feel happy for her that she is going somewhere where she can make friends (and possibly boyfriend! I laughed when a friend of mine who was seeing it at the same time but in another state texted me “Spiller is totally husband material. He grunts, he flies, and he can steer a kettle down a river!”). I’m not sure what happens in the Japanese version as I haven’t gotten my hands on a subbed version yet, but in the American dub Shaun doesn’t die like I was CONVINCED he would. I know in the Borrower novels the boy is the one telling the stories, and you don’t really know if everything he writes about happened or if he is just making it all up. So I assume that Shaun surviving is a nod to those novels. I don’t know why I was so morbid about him. He seemed pretty lackluster as a character. Arrietty definitely stole the show. Hell, Spiller was more interesting than creepy Shaun.

Favorite Scene: When Arrietty is sitting in the crawl space and the roly-poly bug comes up and she uses it as a ball. I don’t know why but I was SO HAPPY when that happened.

Least favorite scene: The freaking CROW in the screen of the window! HOLY CRAP. I mean, hilarious, especially when Haru came in and solved the issue by beating it on the head with her shoe. That scene had me laughing, but I also felt like it was kind of intensely crazy? I dunno. It was like meditating in the glow of a warm and happy film full of quilts and cookie flour and then CROW IN YOUR FACE AND IT WON’T STOP SQUAWKING. Mostly it was jarring.

Ha…jarring. Poor Homily. Haru is a sadist. At least she poked holes in the plastic wrap? I had visions of poor Homily suffocating as soon as she shoved her in that mason jar. Tsk tsk!

Actually let’s take that back. My least favorite scene was the opening scene (even though it was awesome) when I had to listen to that ridiculous song about coming into a garden and the trees and she used to spend her childhood. WHAT. IS. THAT? WHAT IS THAT SONG? IT’S HORRIFIC. It inspired my boyfriend to rewrite the song with dirty lyrics, and he sang it all weekend. That song has to go. It’s even in the Japanese version with the English lyrics. GET IT OUT. IT’S AWFUL. Arrietty’s song at the end was fine, though. Just the coming into the garden song…ugh.

And the cat! We love the cat! I love that cats are looked upon fondly in Japanese culture. Too many Americans are all “I’m a dog person!” and…proud of that. For some reason.

Cats forever.

Except when they eat little people. They shouldn’t do that. Don’t let your cat eat any borrowers living in your house. It’s not nice.

Elena –

I have three words to anyone who loves art and is wondering if they should see this film (and for once none of them are f-bombs):  moving Impressionist garden.

That’s what this movie looked like to me in its animated art direction.  There were lots of colors, lots of shades of green, lots of details of leaf shapes, and yet…this was not photo-realism.  It wasn’t even pretending to try to be. It was just…blurry and lovely and rustling and alive.  It’s worth seeing if you love visual art just for that.

But…the movie on the whole is also pretty much fucking awesome (hey, there’s the drop you knew was coming!).  The heroine, Arrietty, is just awesome. She’s the kind of female hero character we need more of—unafraid of the world, curious, determined, and self-sufficient, yet also vulnerable and open and able of accepting help and seeing the good in others.  She’s like all the good parts of urban fantasy heroines blended with actually being a whole, healthy person instead of an embittered introvert.  I loved especially how willing she was to question the established rules of her life.  I know that’s what kids are supposed to do, but…I don’t think I questioned survival issues when I was 14.

Then there is the High Romantic angle of this being like…the most impossible of all impossible love stories.  She’s the size of one of his fingers.  Even if they were true soul mates they could never have more than companionship.  But they can’t even have that!  Because her parents live by the rule of “human sees us, we have to leave”—and evil housekeeper Haru proves them right to have that rule.  Oh, she’s awful!  (There may also have been a strong resemblance to someone I used to know in real life who caused me significant grief, so my reaction to her was perhaps…extreme.)  It was hilarious to see her foiled again and again and put herself in an even worse position than she’d been in before, when her employers just thought she lost things left and right.

Anyway, the burgeoning friendship between Shaun and Arrietty is sweet and bittersweet at once, since the closer they become the more certain it is that she will have to leave.  Not gonna lie, I teared up at the end.  It was so beautiful.  And how sad was it that the grandfather and Shaun’s mother had built that lovely dollhouse just for them, and they could never live in it?  I totally expected Shaun to relocate them into it and take them home with him, or give them to another house but within the dollhouse.

There were definitely echoes of it being a vaguely romantic interest, at least on Shaun’s part, because both he and Spiller give each other the stink eye, who is THAT asshole?, style.  Spiller was hilarious.  He was great comic relief, but subtle, and also a point of extreme depth for the film’s world-building because he showed that not only are there other Borrowers but that there are also very different ways of Borrowing.  Not all of them live in houses and scaled-down versions of human civilized life.

The movie felt longer than it was—not in a bad way, but it seemed more than 90 minutes.  Maybe because it unfolds at a pretty slow pace, and for all that you can guess several directions it might take you’re never sure which it will take, so you can’t guess how far you are in the plot by typical 3-act structure analysis.

One of the things I liked most is the feature this film shared with other Ghibli movies I’ve seen, and that is that it’s a callback to the fairy tales of childhood.  Not necessarily specific stories, but the infusion of a sense of wonder into quotidian, mundane life.  In an age where Disney has decided they are done with fairy tales (lame), I love that Studio Ghibli proves they can not only be retold but also invented fresh.  While this had great reminders of “Thumbelina” or “Tom Thumb” in terms of the relationship between full-size human and little person, and the scale of our world to them, the story and the scenario were totally different.  Again, not having read The Borrowers series, I can’t speak as to how close it was to those books, but it was fabulous for an impartial observer.

The Secret World of Arrietty Makes Waves in Japan With $8.1 Million U.S. Opening

The Secret World of Arrietty did the unexpected and gained $8.1 million on it’s opening weekend in the States. This is the biggest take for the animators Studio Ghibli to date for a stateside release, making headlines in Japan.

This is impressive because when compared to Spirited Away; another animation by Studio Ghibli; the film only took home half a million stateside on its opening three day bow. While the film itself had earned a record breaking $230 million in Japan, it only ended up with $10 million in America.

Studio Ghibli attributes their success in the united states to Disney, who released the dubbed version. This was openly communicated on the official website for Studio Ghibli in Japan.

The Secret World of Arrietty, which is known as Karigurashi no Arrietty in Japan, opened on over 1500 screens and finished the weekend in eighth spot. The film was first released in Japan, July 2010 and took $115 million home, the highest grossing domestic film that year. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the inspiration for the film was drawn from The Borrowers, written by English author Mary Norton; the creator of Disney classic Bedknobs & Broomsticks!

The Borrowers which was first published in 1952, is the first in a series of children fantasy novels. The stories are about tiny people who infest the homes of normal people, often scavenging for supplies. According to the books, they “borrow” things to survive while ensuring that the world stays ignorant of their existence. We have that too in the real world, the little people are often just the homeless that are cracked out on drugs they bought pawning “borrowed” goods.

The story goes on to tell a story about Arrietty Clock, the spirited teenager of the tiny people variety. From what I can see in the movie adaptation, she becomes friends with a human who’s discovered her existence. Instead of being sentenced to death for violating the masquerade, they carry on their friendship despite the cultural hurdles they face; size does matter.  I believe they made a live action movie in 1997 starring John Goodman also called “The Borrowers.”

Now that I think of it, I remember an animation on television which also became a movie. It was called The Littles. It too was adapted from a series of children’s novels written by John Peterson, this time an American author in 1967. Hmmmm… Curiouser and curiouser. The Littles were also a family of tiny people; with mouse like features such as tails, teeth and ears; that infested the home of the Bigg family; har har. They built wacky contraptions from household items to aid in their survival. Having been discovered by one of the Bigg children, they form a trusting relationship which allows them to mooch off the humans more efficiently. Wow. Someone’s been doing some borrowing themselves writing this.

What is it with these remakes of British entertainment? Do people somehow believe that things seen in the UK will be seen as fresh and new ideas in the states? They take great ideas and make these bastardizations that make me cringe. How do people get away with this? It’s not like I can go and pitch an idea about angst filled teens on probation with superpowers and not get caught!

Gah! It’s like my mind refuses to accept this.  Watch the trailer for The Secret World of Arrietty below:

Upcoming Adaptations for February 2012

February is definitely a slow month for the book adaptation world. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. It seems like everywhere you look a new book is being remade into a movie (or a show) and you might not always hear about them, even the good ones. So because every month there are new and exciting remakes of books into movies and television, we will try to keep you updated.

You can see their release dates for all the new upcoming remakes for February 2012.


February 3rd

The Woman in Black


Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Liz White, Janet McTeer, Alisa Khazanova

It follows a smart young lawyer named Arthur Kipps who must travel to a remote and slightly deserted village and handle a deceased clients papers and files. However, as he toils over the work, he begins to unravel tragic secrets of the village and the client. This is accompanied by a mysteriously woman in black who he glimpses more and more. When he questions the locals he gets no answers. He is forced to set out on his own to figure out the true identity of the woman and stop her from her true intent.

Based on the novel of the same name by Susan Hill.

Big Miracle


John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell.

Inspired by the true story that captured the hearts of people across the world, the rescue adventure ‘Big Miracle’ tells the amazing tale of a small town news reporter (John Krasinski) and a Greenpeace volunteer (Drew Barrymore) who are joined by rival world superpowers to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle.

Based on the 1989 book Freeing the Whales by Tom Rose


February 17th

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


Nicolas Cage, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Ciaran Hinds, Violante Placido, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert

Johnny is still struggling with his curse as the devil’s bounty hunter – but he may risk everything as he teams up with the leader of a group of rebel monks to save a young boy from the devil… and possibly rid himself of his curse forever.

Based on the Marvel Comics antihero Ghost Rider.

The Secret World of Arrietty

A 2010 Japanese animated fantasy film based on Mary Norton’s juvenile fantasy novel The Borrowers. The film was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, was written by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, and stars the voices of Mirai Shida as the titular character, Ryunosuke Kamiki as Sho, and Tatsuya Fujiwara as Spiller. The film tells the story of Arrietty, a young Borrower who lives under the floorboards of a typical household. She eventually befriends Sho, a human boy with a heart condition since birth who is living with his great aunt Sadako. When Sadako’s maid Haru becomes suspicious of the floorboard’s disturbance, Arrietty and her family must escape detection, even if it means leaving their beloved home.