Spirited Away is a fitting title for Hayao Miyazaki’s animated adventure. The film, which screens Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. as part of Indianapolis Museum of Art's Winter Nights series, sweeps viewers up in a colorful whirlwind of childlike wonder.
The action begins when a sullen girl gets lost in a surreal spirit world in the midst of moving to a new neighborhood. After her parents are transformed into pigs, she takes a job in a witch's bathhouse in hopes of finding a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.
The highest-grossing film in Japanese history and the 2002 Academy Award Winner for Best Animated Feature, this coming-of-age drama powerfully captures the otherworldly excitement that goes along with the transition to adulthood. And like that life process, it is at once poignant and uplifting.
The film evokes a moment-to-moment sense of discovery as it sends viewers down a rabbit hole filled with visual marvels, such as soot clumps that spring to life and a trash heap that morphs into a muddy monster. A Japanese answer to Alice and Wonderland, Spirited Away has an earthy texture that practically leaves smudges on your fingers.
You may get real smudges on your hands before the film. A couple of hours before the screening, at 6 p.m., guests will be invited to join in collaborative drawings at the long tables within the newly revealed “Pop-Up Park,” which opened earlier this month.
The IMA is kicking off each of the films in its Winter Nights Film Series with themed activities in the park prior to screenings.
“For Spirited Away, we decided to embrace the animation angle of the film by hosting this session of the IMA Drawing Club,” said Scott Stulen, curator of audience experiences & performance.
Don’t worry — participants don’t have to emulate the lush animation of Spirited Away. As Stulen said, “The activity is less about the work created and more about the joy of drawing with your friends in a unique setting.”
Tickets are $9 for the public, $6 for museum members. You won't want to miss this one. Spirited Away is a cinematic adventure worthy of a big screen viewing.