The Velvet Café

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Archive for the ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ Category

First you see this movie. Then you crochet it.

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I’ve never come around to make a rag doll James Bond, I have yet to stitch Hannibal Lecter and I still don’t own a Dark Knight made of plush.

Making my own miniature versions of movie characters isn’t one of my habits. I’m just not a particularly crafty person. But blimey if I won’t end up crocheting my own little Totoro companion.

You see, My Neighbour Totoro has that effect on you. This movie doesn’t resemble to others.

For one thing, it’s cuter than just about anything else you can see on a screen. Was there ever a creature in the world as huggable as Totoro? I don’t think so.

What also makes it special is that there’s nothing in it that resembles to a villain in it. As a matter of fact, there is barely even as much as a conflict or a problem that needs to be solved.

[mild SPOILER warning] The closest you get to a disagreement or a tension is when the younger one of the two sisters we follow gets a little bit upset since her mother who is away at a hospital doesn’t get well quickly enough. So she runs away for a while and everyone else goes looking for her until they find her. And that’s about as exciting as the movie gets. [end of SPOILER]

You really couldn’t get much further away from The Hunger Games, which was the last movie I had watched before this .

While illness certainly exists in Totoro’s universe, I doubt death does, no more than it exists to Calvin and Hobbes on an exploration tour in their magical world. And it was such a pleasure to just embrace all the dreaminess and cuteness and childish innocence, letting it fill my mind, flushing out all the violence and sadness and cynicism I get from most other movies.

Japanese voices
The only part I didn’t enjoy particularly much was the original Japanese soundtrack. Usually I’m all for watching movies with the original sound, reading the subtitles. I think something gets lost in the dubbing, even if it’s an animated movie. But this movie turned out to be an exception. There’s something about the Japanese child actors voices that didn’t work for me. There was too much screaming and yelling for my taste and after ten minutes I sensed that I was in the danger of developing a severe headache, so I switched over to the Swedish sound, which turned out to be far more pleasant to listen to.  I can’t say if how it is in the case of the English version, if the dubbing is worse or better than the original. And maybe it’s just me having overly sensitive ears.

To be honest I’m not entirely sure of how this film works for its primal target audience, namely children. I can imagine that the very young ones, those who recently outgrew Teletubbies, wont mind the lack of action and danger. Cuteness is enough for their needs. But what about a 12 year old? Will he or she dismiss it as too childish? I think many might. But even so, they can always come back later, when they’ve reached the point in their lives when you realize that maturity and childishness aren’t opposites, but rather the same thing.

Oh, and before I forget it: here’s a pattern you can use if you like me are contemplating to crochet your own Totoro. It doesn’t look quite as soft and furry as the movie version, but damn, it’s cute!  

My Neighbour Totoro (Tonari No Totoro,  Hayao Miyazaki, JA 1988) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

April 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm