Reviews

Oct 22, 2018
Werty800 (All reviews)
My Neighbour Totoro begins with a cheerful ride of a family of three: two young girls and their father. The vast, watery fields, reflecting the morning light, as well as a distinct, towering forest pass by in a flash. Shortly after, the trio arrives at the steps of what's to become their new home.

Despite a bunch of rather large wooden pieces falling from the ceiling, dust covering the wooden panels and several dark, mysterious creatures scattering around the floors, this home is immediately filled with energy like no other. As the kids playfully traverse the insides and rummage through rooms, their sudden, over-the-top movements—animated with incredible precision and fluidity—begin the process of bringing a smile to the viewer's face. This process, for me, was pretty much complete as soon as it began, but if just seeing those images was not enough for others, then the jolly noises amid their playtime in the proceeding scenes should surely help with speeding it up.

Afterwards, the movie proceeds at a rapid pace. Its short runtime is filled with not only similarly wonderful scenes of childish playfulness but also showcases of infantile imagination, worries, hopes, and dreams. All of that is wrapped up in a mythical mystery element, contributing a great deal of this movie's charm and innovativeness—components necessary for what Totoro sets out to do with the aforementioned elements.

That's not to say that Totoro lacks anything beyond the happy feelings and the impressive cinematography. The more experienced viewers can notice the importance of the movie's parental figures, with scenes focusing on them being scattered throughout, frequently taking up uncharacteristically long amounts of time. In one of those, the father is seen writing in his room, consumed by work to the point of completely ignoring the massive, grandiose displays of magic happening outside his window, and in another, this sort of a clash between the adult lifestyle and the childish gleefulness is visible through the quick change of his facial expression, from the daunted and serious one, as he's once again consumed by his tasks, into a cheerful smile, as his daughter quietly puts down a bunch of summer flowers on his desk asking him to be "the flower shop", running away soon after. It's clear that the movie understands not only the barriers between these two worlds, but also the value that children can have in a family, which often tends to be overlooked or underplayed.

When he's not consumed by his duties, their dad is shown to be nothing short of a great parent, willing to believe and trust his children to the ideal extent, letting them roam the garden freely, but keeping them close when they need a helping hand or a word of advice. This family works together very well, their relationship is strong and has clearly been tested numerous times. They know when and how to help each other out, be that emotionally or physically.

The mother also plays an immensely important role. Despite not being physically present as much as her husband, her influence is simply felt. Perhaps the family would never have to be tested if she was with them, and not recovering from an illness in a hospital. They, however, don't complain in the slightest, and instead eagerly await her return. She's the hope for times where the kids won't have to rely on just one parent, and that parent won't have to be the sole recipient of all of their worries.

These sort of ideas and thoughts hold the key to Totoro's everlasting relevancy and emotional resonance. Despite mostly focusing on issues through the eyes of the daughters, those who have grown enough themselves can sympathize with the level of responsibility they face throughout the movie and, thanks to the aforementioned maturity it presents, should be able to appreciate the wisdom it left for posterity.

The movie comes to an end similarly to how it started, however this time, the display is clearly even warmer. As everything this family holds is uncovered, so is its inner passion. In the astonishing final minutes, everyone that has been following this movie as closely as it deserved to be followed, should maybe let go for a while and simply enjoy the moment for what it is; the most blissful of experiences.

And as the credits roll, the only thing left to do is to sing along to the little song...

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Totoro