The Secret World of Arrietty, Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (2012)

by | May 23, 2012 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

The Secret World of Arrietty, Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (2012)
Voices: Carol Burnett, Will Arnett. Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie
Studio: Studio Ghibli/Disney 108558 [5/22/12]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD 2.0, French DD 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1,  English ESL & SDH DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, French
Extras: Original Japanese storyboards, Cecile Corbel music video “Arrietty’s Song”, Original Japanese Trailers & TV spots, Bridgit Mendler music video “Summertime”, “The Making of ‘Summertime’”
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: *****

This latest magical tale from Studio Ghibli was not directed by Miyazaki like most of their award-winning animations, but he did pen the story and supervised it. Like the others it features hand-drawn cel animation, which isn’t often seen in U.S. productions anymore. While not as perfect as Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke, Arrietty still has that magical Studio Ghibli feeling that makes all of their efforts the best animated family features in the world. Odd that they’re now being distributed and promoted by Disney, since aside from using the same hand-drawn style of the old classic Disney animations, they are totally different.
There’s a wonderful sense of wonder in all the Studio Ghibli films, with an appreciation of nature and more subtle personality details in the characters than you see in most animations. This one was obviously directed heavily toward Western audiences, with the characters not appearing the least bit Japanese and a fine English-dubbed soundtrack featuring such voices as Carol Burnett playing the old lady with whom the sickly boy in Arrietty is staying for a time. The music is also unique, being a folky sort of ensemble with a Celtic feeling.
Arrietty is the daughter of the four-inch-high Clocks, husband and wife. There have been other past adaptations of the story of the “Borrowers” – tiny people who live hidden in a secret world beneath the floorboards of houses and borrow tiny amounts of what they need, such as sugar, from the house. I haven’t seen any of the others, but this film is a warm tale of friendship and courage and beautifully told image-wise. Since the boy has some ailment from which he might die, there is a discussion of death with his tiny friend Arrietty. The plot around sensitively dealing with the illness of a character reminded me of Mayazaki’s superb My Neighbor Totoro.
—John Sunier