Entertainment :: Movies

My Neighbor Totoro

by Jake Mulligan
Contributor
Tuesday May 21, 2013
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Living legend Hayao Miyazaki’s most celebrated film is finally out on Blu-ray, with an immaculate visual presentation, and Disney has graced it with their usual ménage of Ghibli special features.

Fans get multiple featurettes> an English dub (recorded recently, with the Fanning sisters,) one on the films’ characters, another on the making of the film and Ghibli’s painstaking aesthetic, another on the locations that inspired the film, and, as the coup de grace, the original Japanese storyboards for the entire film. If you have the DVD, you’ve seen it all before; but those picking up this film on disc for the first time have a lot of information to dig through.

But for the uninitiated, you can’t help but undersell "My Neighbor Totoro." The plot is deceptively simple: two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, go off to spend the summer in the country with their father while their mother recovers from an unidentified illness. They can’t help but be bored of their new surroundings; but soon enough the title character -- a giant, woodland creature -- shows up to reveal to them the wonder of nature. They plant trees, sing songs and ride along in a sentient Cat-Bus hybrid (it’s name is Catbus.)

It may sound boring, it may sound trippy, it may sound really Japanese -- on paper, I admit, "Totoro" is hardly the most appealing film. Especially for today’s adolescents and teens, raised on video games and "Iron Man 3." Yet Miyazaki is a more than just a family filmmaker: he’s a poet, a philosopher, an artist.

He makes every moment lyrical, every location alive, every blade of grass unique, every paved road imbued with its own characteristics and flaws. He takes a small story and shifts it into a transcendent experience; a vision of small-town life as low-to-the-ground as it is fantastical. It’s magical realism at it’s most magical.


"My Neighbor Totoro"
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
$39.95
Disney.com

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