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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Secret World of Arrietty

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


A scene from the animated movie "The Secret World of Arrietty."
From Japan's celebrated animation outfit Studio Ghibli and director Hiromasa Yonebayashi comes the poignant fable "The Secret World of Arrietty" (Disney).

As remade in English under the supervision of Gary Rydstrom — the Japanese original was released in 2010 — this kid-friendly feature can be wholeheartedly recommended for all but easily terrified tots, who might be put off by its few interludes of looming menace.

Based on Mary Norton's Carnegie Medal-winning 1952 children's novel "The Borrowers," the film begins with the arrival at a secluded country house of sickly 14-year-old Shawn (voice of David Henrie). A heart patient, Shawn has been sent to the quiet manse to prepare for a risky operation.

There he accidentally discovers a family of miniature people — dad Pod (voice of Will Arnett), mom Homily (voice of Amy Poehler) and daughter Arrietty (voice of Bridgit Mendler) — sharing the dwelling with him and with its other usual human inhabitant, meddlesome housekeeper Hara (voice of Carol Burnett).

Like others of their kind, known collectively as Borrowers, Arrietty's diminutive clan survive by "borrowing" small, easily overlooked items from their towering neighbors — a single cube of sugar, for example, or an individual tissue. In addition to daring nighttime raids into the oversized human world, however, this lifestyle also requires absolute secrecy.

So, despite his best intentions to the contrary, Shawn's insistence on befriending Arrietty — and trying to help her parents — imperils the little trio's previously happy life together.

Beautifully crafted visuals and a tone of gentle melancholy characterize this meditative tale. Shawn's temporary home is surrounded by the kind of garden in which Monet might have flourished. But nearby are dark, mysterious woods — and the rains come often.

As penned by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa, and translated by Karey Kirkpatrick, the script contrasts the materialism of Shawn's unseen parents — who, we learn, are too busy with their careers to accompany their ailing son and tend to his needs — with the deep bonds and traditional values that unite Shawn's newfound pal and her devoted folks. The ingenuity, frugality and close cooperation that enable the Borrowers to flourish are also implicitly celebrated.

The film contains brief mild peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences. All ages admitted.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

 
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