When Marnie Was There

“When Marnie Was There”

Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Produced by Studio Ghibli and released in 2014.
The film tells the story of a girl, Anna, who travels to the countryside, where she tries to recover from her illness. There she meets Marnie, an imaginary girl in an abandoned mansion. Marnie helps Anna gain a better understanding and new perspective in her life.
As always Studio Ghibli has created a world in which the viewer can be completely immersed. The backgrounds are beautiful and the animation is wonderful.

I love the Aunt and Uncle, even if they are a bit soft and they seem to be completely blind to Anna’s adventures and mid-night outings. She was found lying on the ground asleep a number of times throughout the film in the evening. I find it frustrating that none of the characters find this odd.

The plot has no consistency whatsoever. It feels like there is a bunch of unrelated scenes that happen which are only summarised at the end when Anna asks an elderly woman who Marnie was… If she had thought to ask her at the beginning the entire film would have been shorter by some 4o minutes. There is also another scene where Anna’s new friend from Tokyo tells her she found the rest of Marnie’s diary (which would obviously reveal what had happened to Marnie in the place Anna was going to, but no. Anna had to find out the hard way, only later being found by her Tokyo friend lying face down in the middle of nowhere.)
I love Studio Ghibli, some of my favourite animated films have been made by this company… but I am really disappointed with this film. It’s long winded and most of it just made me go ” …what?” There are so many scenes of just backgrouds panning and birds flying… it doesn’t drive the plot forward at all. The character interaction seems awkward and unnatural, the key character animation is meticulous to the point of frustrating, and there are some parts in the film that are completely out of place.

For example, there are scenes where the postcards Anna writes to her foster parent are translated into English, and they are shown on screen for maybe a couple of seconds… not long enough to be read anyway. Why include them? It hardly makes sense for me to pause the film, read the translation, and play the film again (which is what I had to do in some cases). It completely disrupts the flow of the narrative by bombarding the screen with such excess information.

There is also a lot of recycled animation. The scenes where Anna looks at the mansion are shown twice.

This film feels completely disconnected. I wouldn’t recommend it. It was far too long and frankly I have no idea why this was an animated film. They could have made it in live action.

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