The Borrower Arrietty is a Studio Ghibli film based on Mary Norton's novel The Borrowers. It's essentially a children's film, but there is enough story and content to keep at least this adult happy. The Borrowers are a tribe of tiny people who live in secret corners of the human world. Arriety is a teenage Borrower, living with her parents in the cellar of a country house, where a lonely spinster lives. She is just learning the trade of Borrowing things from humans - a sugar lump here, a pin there and a piece of tissue paper there. When Arriety ventures on her first Borrowing trip, she encounters Sho, the ill teenage nephew of the spinster. Though her parents warn her against any contact with humans, she starts a tentative friendship with Sho. Unfortunately in his actions to try to protect Arriety, Sho sets in motion a series of incidents that end with the Borrowers running away to find somewhere safer to live.
As with all Studio Ghibli films the animation is gorgeous, lush details of leaves and fruit and shivering raindrops. The contrast in size between the Borrowers and the human world are shown beautifully, the Borrowers' house for example is decorated with framed postage stamps and buttons hanging on the wall, while the nails in a wall of the human house offer a precarious passage to the best Borrowing site (the kitchen!). It is also clear that when you're the size of a borrower, the world is full of monsters, whether that's cockroaches, rats or the local cat.
The Borrowers live a fragile existence and are aware that too much contact with humans could destroy their way of life. This allows the film to address the issue of human pressures on the natural world, in a way that (mostly) avoids preaching.
I saw the press screening of this film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Public screenings are:
12.20, 18 June, 19.45, 20 June. Both screenings are in Filmhouse 1. You can buy tickets from the Edinburgh International Film Festival website here.
The Borrwers Arrietty will also get distribution into cinemas fairly soon, so keep an eye out!
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