See Spirited Away on the big screen again! Or for the first time. Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved masterwork, winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar and Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear, Spirited Away tells the story of preteen Chihiro as she finds love, family, and a sense of purpose in a seemingly abandoned amusement park. This screening will also feature commentary by Jackson film critic and blogger Walter Biggins (http://quietbubble.typepad.com/quiet_bubble/).
Good Lord, how do I get myself into these things? Public speaking makes me nervous. I’m no expert on Miyazaki, anime in general, or Japanese folklore. All the same, in two weeks, I’ll be standing before a crowd of people—many of whom will know much more about these subjects than I do—babbling on and on. I have about 30 minutes total—ten before the screening, 20 after it—to discuss Miyazaki’s masterpiece, and I only have an inkling of an idea on how to handle this. I’m thinking that my intro will essentially be a rehash of my 2006 essay, “The Daily Grind in Dreamland,” which was reprinted in my zine, The Patter of Raindrops. In some ways, I’ll personalize this, telling how I came to Miyazaki through this film—I had seen Princess Mononoke before this one, but Spirited Away was the mindblower that set me to seeing the rest of his oeuvre, and to Japanese animation.
Okay, I can deal with that. It’s the post-screening discussion that’s got me biting my nails. I would like it to be a Q&A where I throw out questions for discussion to the audience about what’s going on in this dream-like film. (If you’ve seen it, you know there’s a lot of room for interpretation.) So, instead of my acting as an expert capable of answering questions of minutiae about technical details and themes, the 20 minutes can be a conversation amongst the audience.
So, I’ll throw out some opening salvos here, in the hopes that you’ll provide guidance to me. What burning issues would you like to see discussed? What topics deserve exploration and/or sharper focus? What items in Spirited Away aren’t talked about enough? In short, what questions would you have, if you were in attendance? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box. I appreciate any help you can offer.