In case you missed all the nattering regarding how this is the film Disney would have made if they knew a damn thing about making anything decent anymore, the film is about a girl who's travelling with her parents to her new house. Along the way they stop at some old temple, and next thing you know they've crossed over to a fantasy land and the parents are turned into pigs and the little girl is working for an old spider shaped bugger who uses lumps of soot as slaves. In case you think that's a bit mad, the whole parent / pig metamorphism and the spider-bloke and the living soot, well, just wait till the three heads appear, and then the dragons, and the big black thing that runs about eating people who didn't even ask to be eaten.
Imagination slaps you across the jaw with every damn scene. The whole thing has a weird, other-worldly beauty about it, and just to remind you of the beauty, they give away five postcards inside the box so as you can frame the shot where the wee girl is looking out over the sea, or the one where she's holding onto the dragon who looks like the thing from Never Ending Story.
So what the hell is it? Is it a whimsical fable about the loss of childhood and the need to move on? Is it all about sexual awakening? (After all, Freud talked about how the spider was a vagina or something, plus you've got the big phallic dragon that the girl is so keen on). Who the hell cares what it is? It's damn well awe-inspiring is what, and that's all anyone needs to know. Just throw it on, sit back and enjoy. And for once, the dubbing is excellent. I mean really, really good. This Miyazaki fella better watch himself, and calm down a little. The Duke has no room for another genius on The List just yet.
So just to prove it was a fluke, and this bloke was obviously some damn hack, I went and bought another of his films, by the name of Princess Mononoke, the English dubbing of which is performed by none other than Minnie Driver and Billy Bob Thornton and various other "names". Bet this'll be nonsense, I was thinking.
Who the hell gave this Mononoke permission to be better than Spirited Away? Who? Somebody, obviously, for these animated shenanigans turned out to be damn works of genius also. If you can imagine an animated version of Kurosawa's Ran, except with wolves and boars fighting humans over ownership of a forest, and with arrows that cut folks heads off and so on, and also a curse and a bit of deicide thrown in for good measure, then you're somewhere near to realising how original and wonderful these escapades turned out to be.