8:00 PM, 15th April, 2003
Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) is the latest offering from the unstoppable animator Hayao Miyazaki. Having 'retired' after finishing Princess Mononoke at just 60 years of age, he couldn't stay away from movie-making for long (note that after making this film he retired again, and is now, of course, currently directing a new film).
The story centres on Chihiro, a young girl who has had to move with her parents to a new town. On their way there, they discover a mysterious tunnel that leads to a land of spirits. As punishment for entering the land, the evil Yubaba turns Chihiro's parents into pigs, and she must work to get them back.
Within weeks of opening, this movie had broken box-office records in Japan, not only for animated features, but also for all movies. In its final days, the screenings were still standing room only ((mdash)) with audience members aged from 5 to 65 (or maybe older, I didn't ask them). As Miyazaki described it, 'For the people who used to be 10 years old, and the people who are going to be 10 years old'.
(Spirited Away has since won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film - ed.)