When Marnie Was There - Studio Ghibli Delivers With Its Potential Swansong

When Marnie Was There - Studio Ghibli Delivers With Its Potential Swansong

When Marnie Was There might mark the final Studio Ghibli film. It's a strong enough entry on which to conclude a very successful run, if that indeed winds up being the case.

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I really wanted to see this when it was in theaters, but in the entire state of New York, only one theater was showing it, and it had almost no showings, so I missed out.

How is it that Ghibli films get so little fanfare but something like The Oogieloves gets a 2,000+ theater release?

Capatcha: mind the gap
Why yes, I do.

I was lucky enough to see this with a friend in theaters, and I honestly enjoyed it. True, the pacing is a bit slow and the ending somewhat rushed, but the visuals, story, and characters make up for it. Plus the end is pretty damn touching, I thought.

soren7550:
I really wanted to see this when it was in theaters, but in the entire state of New York, only one theater was showing it, and it had almost no showings, so I missed out.

How is it that Ghibli films get so little fanfare but something like The Oogieloves gets a 2,000+ theater release?

Tell me about it. Most of them don't even come out here, and those that two are in very limited release. Princess Kaguya showed on a single screen for a single showtime at one theater. Marnie played for a week and only had about 4 showings.

I honestly never say this about a Ghibli film, but... fuck this movie!

It treats depression and self-hatred as something you just get over like it's a misunderstanding or an arguement you had with someone. And the reason she fell into this "depression" is even stupider...

Now this movie was based off of a book, so maybe that was the source of the stupid and Ghibli just didn't know how to adapt it into something that wasn't painfully dumb. Or maybe the book is actually smart and something got horribly botched during the adaptation. Either way, this movie is fucking stupid.

You want an actual good coming-of-age tale from Ghibli about a girl struggling with depression, watch Kiki's Delivery Service.

Is this a romance by any chance? It would be great to see them breaking conventions and having a female love interest for the female protagonist (something that Ghibli has never done).

Casual Shinji:
I honestly never say this about a Ghibli film, but... fuck this movie!

It treats depression and self-hatred as something you just get over like it's a misunderstanding or an arguement you had with someone. And the reason she fell into this "depression" is even stupider...

Now this movie was based off of a book, so maybe that was the source of the stupid and Ghibli just didn't know how to adapt it into something that wasn't painfully dumb. Or maybe the book is actually smart and something got horribly botched during the adaptation. Either way, this movie is fucking stupid.

You want an actual good coming-of-age tale from Ghibli about a girl struggling with depression, watch Kiki's Delivery Service.

i think a big part of the problem was the fact that it was adapted into a film instead of a TV series, which would have allowed things to be more fully fleshed out. i bet you anything that the book could be turned into a wonderful 13 episode TV series.

soren7550:
I really wanted to see this when it was in theaters, but in the entire state of New York, only one theater was showing it, and it had almost no showings, so I missed out.

How is it that Ghibli films get so little fanfare but something like The Oogieloves gets a 2,000+ theater release?

Capatcha: mind the gap
Why yes, I do.

Tell me about it. Only two theatres in Georgia played it. One of them must have felt the same as you, though, because they re-released the entire Ghibli collection, subbed, in theatres. Seeing Spirited Away and Mononoke on the big screen was quite the experiance. I took my little sister. In any case, I thought the film was great. I found it quite touching. I assumed New York would get a big release. That's a surprise.

Casual Shinji:
I honestly never say this about a Ghibli film, but... fuck this movie!

It treats depression and self-hatred as something you just get over like it's a misunderstanding or an arguement you had with someone. And the reason she fell into this "depression" is even stupider...

Now this movie was based off of a book, so maybe that was the source of the stupid and Ghibli just didn't know how to adapt it into something that wasn't painfully dumb. Or maybe the book is actually smart and something got horribly botched during the adaptation. Either way, this movie is fucking stupid.

You want an actual good coming-of-age tale from Ghibli about a girl struggling with depression, watch Kiki's Delivery Service.

That's interesting. I never thought Kiki was suffering through depression, I just thought she lost her passion for her "magic." I know miyazaki didn't want to make the movie, and he lost his inspiration for animation before making the film, to the point where he wanted to retire. I got the impression that Kiki losing her magic was actually Miyazaki losing his love for animation, and not knowing what to do about it. Like artists block. Of course, then he went on to create his best work.

In any case, I actually liked this film. No, it's not Eva, and the protagonist wasn't Shinji, but I thought it did a good job of portraying its characters. I could strongly identify with character, since I went through depression. I didn't really feel like the letter set her off, though, and I didn't get the impression that the depression just disappeared. I just thought it was a healthy experiance that set her on the path of recovery.

I do wish the film had been about to lesbians instead of her grandma, though. I was a little disapointed.

Casual Shinji:
-Snip-

This is perhaps the best example of how little we all, even (especially?) those of us who suffer from depression, truly understand about the nature of emotional health and development. The fact of the matter is that not everyone who is SAD, who loses their sense of self-worth or feels some kind of deep emotional self-loathing, suffers from DEPRESSION. Depression isn't an emotion, it's a psychological disorder brought on by an inability for the brain to regulate certain chemicals. The emotions which Casual Shinji here describes, while yes they can be brought on by depression, are also very typical emotional hurdles which we all face as we travel through the self-discovery portions of our childhood and youth.

Yes, someone with depression may very well fall into a deep state of self-loathing. But a child who discovers something very upsetting MAY very well experience the same melancholy and self-loathing without actually suffering from depression. A healthy brain will, given time, work to re-establish emotional balance. That doesn't make that misery and self-loathing any less real, or any less valid. It just makes it a mistake to call this a story about DEPRESSION.

This isn't a story about DEPRESSION. It's a story about coming to terms with the way things are and growing up.

Folks with depression, I myself being guilty of it quite often, tend not to think of themselves as having a mental disorder. It's not CRAZY to be sad and miserable and upset. But depression isn't defined by emotion, it's defined by the prolonged state of those emotions through a chemical imbalance in the brain.

TL/DR: Depression != Emotional Pain

Fox12:
That's interesting. I never thought Kiki was suffering through depression, I just thought she lost her passion for her "magic." I know miyazaki didn't want to make the movie, and he lost his inspiration for animation before making the film, to the point where he wanted to retire. I got the impression that Kiki losing her magic was actually Miyazaki losing his love for animation, and not knowing what to do about it. Like artists block. Of course, then he went on to create his best work.

The magic disappearing symbolized loss of innocence. Things that always seemed so simply and came so naturally suddenly vanish leaving only confusion and uncertainty as you try to find yourself again. And at the very end when we see Jiji again it indicates that that childhood she had, that made her feel so safe and secure is gone forever. It showed that Kiki is no longer the care-free individual we knew from the start.

PhantomEcho:
snip

Look, I'm not an expert on the subject and I know that depression covers a lot of bases, not all of which are as easy to spot, but you present me with a character that obviously suffers from an immense feeling of self-loathing and who is very anti-social, than you better have some proper cause to back it up. As well as not ending it with a happily ever after. This wasn't a girl who was just in a bad mood, this was a girl who was very tormented. The entire plot about her emotional issues just vanishes to make way for the mystery about Marnie, and then when that's solved it's like 'Oh yeah, I had some major emotional problems and had real trouble interacting with others, huh. I guess that's just gone now. Let's ride into a promising future!'

Christ, all the mind tripping is never even explained.

Casual Shinji:
I honestly never say this about a Ghibli film, but... fuck this movie!

It treats depression and self-hatred as something you just get over like it's a misunderstanding or an arguement you had with someone. And the reason she fell into this "depression" is even stupider...

Now this movie was based off of a book, so maybe that was the source of the stupid and Ghibli just didn't know how to adapt it into something that wasn't painfully dumb. Or maybe the book is actually smart and something got horribly botched during the adaptation. Either way, this movie is fucking stupid.

You want an actual good coming-of-age tale from Ghibli about a girl struggling with depression, watch Kiki's Delivery Service.

As someone above me stated, you only assume that being a moody tween is the same as having long-term, clinical depression. Also, no one said all of her problems were fixed by the end of the movie.

hentropy:
As someone above me stated, you only assume that being a moody tween is the same as having long-term, clinical depression. Also, no one said all of her problems were fixed by the end of the movie.

Except the movie doesn't portray her as just a moody tween. The opening starts off with her stating some people just stand outside that circle of having a healthy, fulfilling social life. And the movie paints this as genuine, not as something the audience is supposed to take as the pretentious claim by an emo teenager.

The movie than heavily implies she's slipping into somekind of delusional state of mind, likely brought on by her wanting to run away from her real life. And again, it's not like this is her just day dreaming -- she can no longer tell the difference between dreams and reality, which is a clear sign she is losing her sanity.

I mean, Perfect Blue also had a somewhat ill-fitting end, but it got its point across as to why Mima was losing her mind.

I went out of my way to see this in a theatre. (2 week limited run in just 10 theatres nationwide!? wow. -_-)

I'm glad I did, because it was... Really rather stunning.
Even if it did leave me stranded at a railway station overnight fending off creepy, annoying people... >_>

One thing that struck me is this film gives off a faintly lesbian vibe to it, in the interactions between Anna and Marnie...
It's subtle enough to be totally imagined, but... Even so...
(also kind of awkward taking the ending into account)

I thought it was just my own over-active imagination really, though the girl sitting next to me in the theatre turned to her friends and said exactly what I'd been thinking...
So uhh... There is that. XD

Overall, I liked this a lot.
Then again I like most studio ghibli films...
Some of them less so than others I admit. (pom poko is weird, and ocean waves is rather dull for instance).

Still, this one? I like a lot.
Guess it has a lot of emotions I recognise though... So... yeah.
(perhaps not helped by the fact I had no real friends at all at that age... And never really recovered from that until much more recently)

Alar:
Is this a romance by any chance? It would be great to see them breaking conventions and having a female love interest for the female protagonist (something that Ghibli has never done).

Judging by the ending (and other aspects of the story), I'd say no. However going by the way the two of them interact, It does very much seem to come across as what a romantic relationship would look like at that kind of age...
It feels like the interactions of a lesbian couple (or at least, two girls who are in love), whether it was intended that way or not...

Casual Shinji:
snip

I agree that the ending was underwhelming, given the buildup of the plot. The grandmother thing came out of left field, and hurt the overarching plot. For a film that took its time and had a slow build, the ending was abrupt. It would have been better if Marnie was her imaginary friend, or girlfriend, or a figment of her idealized self, or the ghost of a young girl (as opposed to her grandmother).

That said, I wouldn't call it bad. At least, I don't think the ending was as clean cut as some people make it out to be. She's certainly more stable then at the beginning, but that doesn't mean the troubles gone. I think the point is that she's on the path to recovery.

I would consider it a better exploration of the subject then other attempts at the same. Watamote and Welcome to the NHK, for example, bordered between uncomfortable and painfully bad. Those I actually found moderately offensive.

Fox12:
I would consider it a better exploration of the subject then other attempts at the same. Watamote and Welcome to the NHK, for example, bordered between uncomfortable and painfully bad. Those I actually found moderately offensive.

I wouldn't say it explores much though. It sets it up well enough, but then doesn't really follow through and even changes tracks entirely about 2/3 of the way through.

Watamote, while not that great, gives a refreshingly uncompromising view of someone who is her own worst enemy and can't for the life of her find a way to break out of that vicious circle. It also features a protagonist who isn't the sensitive, pure-hearted individual that we're supposed to empathize with, like what's usually the case with these types of stories.

But... atleast the animation and character design is very nice. The same guy also did Arrietty and the visuals and character designs in that movie felt a bit flat. It's nice to see that he's improved quite a bit since then.

Casual Shinji:
Except the movie doesn't portray her as just a moody tween. The opening starts off with her stating some people just stand outside that circle of having a healthy, fulfilling social life. And the movie paints this as genuine, not as something the audience is supposed to take as the pretentious claim by an emo teenager.

The movie than heavily implies she's slipping into somekind of delusional state of mind, likely brought on by her wanting to run away from her real life. And again, it's not like this is her just day dreaming -- she can no longer tell the difference between dreams and reality, which is a clear sign she is losing her sanity.

You make some good points, but I'm not sure what it has to do with what you originally said. She had a few issues for sure, but it was never suggested that she had long-term, clinical depression. Most people (especially pubescent young people) have bouts with depression, and not all of them last a lifetime or require aggressive medication. "Moody tween" was probably a poor choice of words, I meant more that it's normal for tweens to start to feel conflicted about many things in their life, in Anna's case it was just a whole lot of issues coming on at once. You claimed that its an unrealistic and even dangerous depiction of depression, when it never said she was clinically depressed and most of her problems come from understandable conflicts and health problems a young person might experience. I watched it in Japanese and haven't seen the dub, maybe something was lost in translation, but the nature of Anna's problems seemed pretty clear and understandable.

It is true that most problems are not solved by dream-like spectres, but if that's your problem with it then get ready to get pissed at hundreds of movies.

Also, I find it interesting how people and critics heavily criticize the ending/story, even though Ghibli really didn't write the ending, but threw all the praise possible at Kaguya, despite it having a much more bizarre and abrupt ending that is really undermines the story and makes it less enjoyable to a modern audience, but it gets a pass because it's an adaptation? I guess the lesson is that no one will care how disjointed and confusing your ending is so long as it's an adaptation of something really old.

This sounds like a movie I would totally check out if not for the fact that it's only showing in one theater near my area at "certain" times that I'm not available, if Fandango is correct... Regardless, I assume I'll end up buying this on DVD/Blu-Ray when I get the chance...

Other that that, you had me at "asthma" in terms of watching this film, even if it wasn't done by the same director as The Secret World of Arrietty, let alone from Ghibli...

hentropy:
It is true that most problems are not solved by dream-like spectres, but if that's your problem with it then get ready to get pissed at hundreds of movies.

It's not that, it's that those particular dream sequences give the impression that Anna has no more grip on reality. She drifts in and out with no control, implying something is either wrong inside her head or it's something supernatural. But it never explains this at the end, it just completely ignores that whole mind trip.

Also, I find it interesting how people and critics heavily criticize the ending/story, even though Ghibli really didn't write the ending, but threw all the praise possible at Kaguya, despite it having a much more bizarre and abrupt ending that is really undermines the story and makes it less enjoyable to a modern audience, but it gets a pass because it's an adaptation? I guess the lesson is that no one will care how disjointed and confusing your ending is so long as it's an adaptation of something really old.

No, it's because Kaguya's ending had a point.

I won't disagree that the ending isn't enjoyable, but that's because it's not supposed to make you feel good, quite the opposite actually.

Damn, I've got to catch this. Princess Kaguya seemed to have a fairly good release here in the UK; there were ads all over the Tube for it, at least, so I should be in luck.

Casual Shinji:
It's not that, it's that those particular dream sequences give the impression that Anna has no more grip on reality. She drifts in and out with no control, implying something is either wrong inside her head or it's something supernatural. But it never explains this at the end, it just completely ignores that whole mind trip.

Again, I sorta like the concept of things being left to the imagination, versus Inception-style "explain everything to the viewer so it ties up nicely".

No, it's because Kaguya's ending had a point.

I won't disagree that the ending isn't enjoyable, but that's because it's not supposed to make you feel good, quite the opposite actually.

hentropy:

There's a lot injected into the movie that wasn't in the original fairy tale. Like the wood cutter figuring that because Kaguya is a goddess she must therefore be surrounded by riches and be raised as a princess. He falsely equates divinity to gold, nobility, and earthly possessions. Or how blindly following tradition can end up hurting the ones you love even if it comes from a good place. And that aristocracy robs you of your humanity, especially if you're a woman. You see a scene where Kaguya's expressions literally get plucked from her face.

Casual Shinji:
Except the movie doesn't portray her as just a moody tween. The opening starts off with her stating some people just stand outside that circle of having a healthy, fulfilling social life. And the movie paints this as genuine, not as something the audience is supposed to take as the pretentious claim by an emo teenager.

That's a rather harsh way to describe a teenager having troubles fitting in. A lot of people go through hell during their teen years, and it doesn't always have to do with emo music or purple-dyed bangs. Also, the young person taking a break from normal life to do some soul-searching in the faraway country is one of the oldest tropes in the book. I feel much more inclined to take Marnie as an iteration of the latter than as a allegory of overcoming depression.

The movie than heavily implies she's slipping into somekind of delusional state of mind, likely brought on by her wanting to run away from her real life. And again, it's not like this is her just day dreaming -- she can no longer tell the difference between dreams and reality, which is a clear sign she is losing her sanity.

Or that it was all a whimsical plot device to make her come to grips with her life. This is Studio Ghibli, after all. Leaving explanations to the supernatural is well within their MO. Unlike Satoshi Kon's movies, which are much more cerebral and generally portray the escape to fantasy as a slippage of reality. I never got this neosurrealist vibe from Ghibli, and this seems no exception.

Now, just to end with an olive branch, I also think Princess Kaguya is the superior movie by far.

 

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