My Neighbor Totoro13 Apr 2016
The new Metrograph theater in NYC screened a 35MM version of My Neighbor Totoro this weekend. Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, and this film in particular are a testament to the power of narrative. There is very little going on in this movie, it features a narrative constructed largely out of nothing. The only real powering force behind it is imagination. There is no major conflict, we learn only a little about their mother’s illness, and yet every viewer in the theater, young and old, was focused on the story and pulling for these characters.
Satsuki and Mei are some of Miyazaki’s best characters. They are full of warmth, wonder, and intelligence. Their father, too, is a great character. He gives his full love, trust and attention to his daughters.
There are some stories or films that are so saccharine and unobjectionable, lacking any conflict or trying to be so unoffensive to anyone that they lose all meaning. This film could’ve ended up like that. But instead it ends up with a politics of its own - a politics that is heavily in favor of imagination and family.