Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!
My Neighbor Totoro
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Quick synopsis… Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki provides a stunningly realistic portrayal of life in the country. When their mother is hospitalized, two young sisters spend a summer in the Japanese countryside with their father. The strange new environment turns out to be a natural wonderland filled with exotic real-life creatures and a trio of furry woodland sprites who can only be seen by children.
I’m pretty sure this is only the second film from Studio Ghibli to make this list. So far, we’re two for two with me really enjoying the movie.
It’s no surprise that it is beautifully animated. The story… is a little weird. But that’s okay. It’s meant to be weird, I think. I’m not going to pretend to know or understand classic Japanese folklore and I have no clue how much of My Neighbor Totoro is inspired by folklore and how much of it is the imagination of Miyazaki. But from what I can tell, it’s a story about two girls who have powerful imaginations and/or a powerful connection to the natural world all around them.
As you read in the synopsis, Satsuki and Mei are two girls who have moved with their father to the countryside to be closer to the hospital where their mother is recovering from a long term illness. It’s never said what their mother is recovering from, but it’s kept them from all being together for some time. As soon as the girls arrive at their new home, the begin exploring and they encounter a number of strange, but friendly, creatures in the nearby forest.
Like I said, I’m not familiar with the folklore or what themes Miyazaki may have been going for with this story. But I can’t help but wonder how much of the story and these girls’ interactions with Totoro are in response to coping with their mother’s illness. Yes, I said that the story can be weird at times, but it is also incredibly touching to see these two sisters leaning on and supporting each other as they await their mother’s return home.
Yeah, I cried. Okay? Is that what you wanted to hear?
Having now seen My Neighbor Totoro, it currently ranks at 492 out of 2,286 on my personal Flickchart.
Have you seen My Neighbor Totoro? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!