Review: Arrietty (The Secret World of Arrietty)

I’m quiet sad I missed Arrietty in the cinema as I thoroughly enjoyed this entry for Studio Ghibli!

This outing is a gentle, calming experience, an adaptation of “The Borrowers” books, Arrietty follows a family of four inch tall people living beneath the floors and between the walls of a house. Having lived in peace for so long, the two worlds crash together when a human boy discovers the family’s daughter, Arrietty.

The tone of the movie is as far removed from Ghibli’s most recent offering, Ponyo, as you can imagine; Arrietty’s story is simple and the pacing is slowed right down. We are shown how the borrowers live day-to-day, the fascinating little world behind walls, the use of smaller objects as vital tools, it all lends itself extremely well to Ghibli’s detailed, warm art style.
I usually watch their films with the English dub, and I’m happy to say that Arrietty’s vocal talent is good and the characters are great, none of them are irritating. There are several animal characters too, from savage crows to a very likeable cat.

My only small gripe with the movie was the shift in tone during one scene. When Arrietty and the boy meet, he goes off on a tangential rant about how lesser “species” are being wiped out all over the world. It was brief, but jarred with the honest storytelling. I’ve nothing wrong with morals in films, I usually appreciate them, but in this particular scene it just felt awkward.

This is only a very small issue, the rest of the film is packed with charming details and has a wonderful, refreshingly gentle speed. We all need a change of pace sometimes, and Studio Ghibli rarely fails to deliver!

Additional Marshmallows: Hayao Miyazaki had considered adapting the novel for the last 40 years! While he didn’t direct Arrietty, there certainly is a sense of care and attention given to it.


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