The Secret World of Arrietty
By Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
This beautifully animated adaptation of the multi-award-winning 1952 children’s novel by Mary Norton, “The Borrowers” is one of the
gentlest films I have seen in a long time.
Arrrietty and her family are little people. They believe
that if human “beans” see them their curiosity will destroy them and therefore
they must move every time this happens. Arrietty and her family think they are
the only little people left on the earth.
Arrietty, her mother Homily, and her father Pod (for all
voices please see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568921/),
live under the floorboards of a country house tended to be Hara (voice of Carol
Burnett, US version). Pod is somber and
wise and works to make things for his family. He goes on “borrowing”
expeditions at night to obtain provisions from the human “beans” who live in the
house above them.
When Arrietty is almost 14 her mother permits her to go on
her first borrowing adventure. Arrietty and Pod are excellent climbers who trek
up and down piles of stuff, fabric, and table legs, to borrow what they need.
Pod reminds Arrietty that Borrowers don’t hoard things.
One day a regular sized boy named Shawn arrives at the
country house. His great aunt has brought him there so he can get regain some
strength before he has heart surgery in a few weeks. His parents are divorced and always working
and he seems sad. He sees Arrietty and she sees him. But she is not as
frightened as her parents. The two young people begin to communicate.
Of course things get complicated because there is a legend
about the little people; Shawn’s mother and grandfather believed in them. In
fact, they built a dollhouse just for them but it seems the little people never
knew about it. When Hara realizes that Shawn has discovered the little people,
she sets out to capture one.
“The Secret World of Arrietty” comes to us from first-time
Japanese director Hiromasa Yonebayashi whose previous animation
efforts include “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Spirited Away.” Hayao Miyazaki, who is certainly the most
prodigious and significant rival to Disney to ever emerge on the scene, wrote
This is a movie that lets us see the world from a
different perspective, that of ‘the other’, the little people who live in
hiding and are always on the move in order to survive. Shawn, who himself needs
care, is very careful to treat the Borrowers with respect and is always aware
of his size in relation to Arrietty who is just big enough to pick up a sugar
The theme of the little people “borrowing” only what
they need is very important to Pod but Homily seems to be a collector and she
is very anxious about their safety. Only living with what we need is a good
message for us during Lent. But is there a larger ethical question here: are
they stealing? Do they have a right to “borrow” or to steal in a world that is
too big for them?
Pod also has something wise to say about violence
when Arrietty finds a weapon (a straight pin).
I don’t know if “The Secret World of Arrietty” is a
good adaptation of the book “The Borrowers” (actually there is a series of
them) but I loved the beautiful world of the film, the moral imaginary journey
of trying to live and be happy by walking in the shoes, or seeing through the
eyes, of people different that me. And I appreciated the girl Arrietty’s
gumption and the boy Shawn’s quiet strength in adversity. Finally, here is a
film with two complementary heroes, each respectful of
the other and courageous in their own way.
Thank you for your comments. Editors will review all posts before they are visible on the website.
blog comments powered by