Studio Ghibli's Next Feature Film - When Marnie Was There
Back in December, per tradition, Studio Ghibli announced their latest productions for the coming year. 2013 saw the two founding directors, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, unveil their latest masterpieces. In 2014, the next generation will take the reins, as young director Hiromasa Yonebayashi returns to the spotlight.
The Arrietty director's next project is "When Marnie Was There," an adaptation of the beloved British children's novel by Joan G. Robinson. This story was published over four decades ago, and although I'm not familiar with it, I did find the following description (via Amazon) of an out-of-print paperback:
"Anna hasn't a friend in the world - until she meets Marnie among the sand dunes. But Marnie isn't all she seems...An atmospheric ghost story with truths to tell about friendship, families and loneliness. Anna lives with foster parents, a misfit with no friends, always on the outside of things. Then she is sent to Norfolk to stay with old Mr and Mrs Pegg, where she runs wild on the sand dunes and around the water. There is a house, the Marsh House, which she feels she recognises - and she soon meets a strange little girl called Marnie, who becomes Anna's first ever friend. Then one day, Marnie vanishes. A new family, the Lindsays, move into the Marsh House. Having learnt so much from Marnie about friendship, Anna makes firm friends with the Lindsays - and learns some strange truths about Marnie, who was not all she seemed..."
Now this sounds very interesting. There are similarities to Arrietty and, by extension, that trio of masterpieces created by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki in the 1970's: Heidi, Marco, and Anne. I find it fascinating how all rivers of inspiration lead back to that same source. Practically every Studio Ghibli production wants to be Heidi.
Yonebayashi worked for many years as a Ghibli animator, and his emergence as a feature film director raised hopes for a new generation of talent, new blood injected into what is, frankly, an aging movie studio. If Ghibli is going to survive, post-Miyazaki, then the next generation will need to find their bearings, find their place within this vast legacy, and introduce their own voices to the mix. Hayao Miyazaki was so impressed by Yonebayashi that he allowed the young director almost total freedom in making Arrietty.
I am really looking forward to this movie, what Yonebayashi has to offer, and whether Miyazaki's trust in him is well and truly earned. Cross your fingers, kids.