When Marnie Was There - Japan and US Trailers





It's about time that we started discussing Studio Ghibli's latest feature film, Hiromasa Yonebayashi's When Marnie Was There. Here are the Japanese and US trailers for viewing.

As always, there are a lot of things to discuss about this movie in the coming weeks, as GKids Film rolls out the US theatrical run. The not-quite-hidden gay subtext being among them, of course. I'm not yet decided whether this was overtly intended, or if we "straight people" have cracked the secret code to gay and lesbian characters in literature and movies, the "wink-wink" code of Fried Green Tomatoes and Thelma & Louise and Anne of Green Gables. Oh, and all those Expendables movies. Can't forget those.

A fair warning: Marnie contains a large spoiler, which I'll kindly advise everyone to keep a secret.

19 comments:

I Make Comments said...

Considering the spoiler, I don't really think that any gay subtext was intended.
I think this is probably an issue of cultural perception. Can anyone confirm this? Is it mostly westerners who thought that it was a lesbian story?...did the Japanese audience see it this way too?

Anyway, it's a pretty good movie. Although a bit underwhelming after Princess Kaguya.

JC said...

There is such a thing as friendship between members of the same sex, or at least there used to be...I've seen this movie twice, once with my wife, and neither of us took away any hint of such subtext.

Young said...

Response to I Make Comments:

Quite a few of the Japanese were in fact worried that Marnie would be a lesbian story when the first trailer came out. I say worried because most of Japan believes homosexuality is something of an adult concept and not suitable for a kid-friendly film from Ghibli. But in the end, they believed there won't be homosexuality in the film because it's a Ghibli film. That's as guaranteed as saying there won't be a homosexual couple in an animated Disney film.

Source:
http://www.tofugu.com/2014/08/28/ghiblis-uncertain-future-post-miyazaki/

Potli Baba said...

Anne of the Green Gables?

Let us hope our 'open-minded', postmodern liberal zest is not taking us for a ride here...

Ambi Valent said...

I think the people who thought it was a lesbian story picked up that it was about love between girls, and thought that automatically meant "lesbian".

What they missed was that the love lacked any sexual content. Maybe it's because harmless scenes of characters caring for each other and hugging each other are too often used to show that two characters are in a romantic relationship. I think the characters were drawn extra young because of that, like older children instead of young women, so that people won't get the wrong idea. Apparently that wasn't enough.

Hayley Harrison said...

I feel it is a cultural difference. I think people in the US are, on average, much less heteronormative than the Japanese, so we are more likely to consider a gay subtext as valid. From my understanding, gay romances in Japan are generally either deemed entirely unacceptable or are highly fetishized; there doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground in which a committed, gay relationship becomes acceptable. I could be generalizing/wrong, but that's just my impression.

As a huge supporter of gay rights and anti-heteronormative thinking, but also a huge Ghibli enthusiast, I'm finding it hard to motivate myself to sit down and watch this movie. I don't want to be interpreting the film in a wildly different way than it was intended, only to be disappointed by the end result.

daniel thomas said...

@Potti Baba: Well, I also said "The Expendables," so take it all as tongue-in-cheek. But I also understand that gay subtexts to platonic relationships in stories is not uncommon, and has long existed in Western Literature. This doesn't simply imply that such characters are really gay or lesbian; it's just a shading and understanding, a personal experience on the part of gay authors, that influences their work.

Whether it was intentional or not, many viewers have interpreted a gay-friendly angle to When Marnie Was There. The JP trailer, more than the US trailer, offers all the conventional trappings of a teenage romance movie. What does this mean? Are we readin too much into things? And if so, what does that mean?

Perhaps we are simply learning to empathize with those who are gay or lesbian. We watch these images of teenage friends, their moments of awkwardness, of trusting, of longing, and we are reminded of our own early romances. Again, overreading the situation is a very real possibility. But there was definitely something there in that trailer. There's a spark in the animation, a wink and a nod.

In any case, these are topics and themes worthy of discussion. Movies are often like that. They inspire and pull and push us in many directions at once, not just the direction of the story itself.

Panino Manino said...

Gay subtext in Anne of Green Gables?
Dude, no! What the hell! (I'm laughing here).


But let's skip this and talk about Marnie. What can I say? Anyone here anxious to discuss this new movie? I'm certainly not. I already watched and what a beautiful animated piece of crap it is... wow.
Marnie is bad, this is not right, Ghibli movies should be always good. It's so dumb and melodramatic
...

ghiblifan22 said...

I disagree with you Panino Manino. Marnie is a very good movie.

Grega bitežnik said...

I agree with Panino. Marnie is a terrible movie. There is one thing I expect from Ghibli - to make a mature movie in terms of wisdom. Marnie felt like it was written by a young teenager who is clueless about life and is trying to impress with his half-baked ideas. Bland characters and no vision. It is like bad fan-fiction.

Blogan said...

I thought Marnie was pretty good. Certainly not great, but decent and well worth watching. I liked it more than Arrietty and a handful of other Ghibli films, such as The Cat Returns, Earthsea, Ocean Waves, and, dare I say it, Ponyo. (Sorry, but I really don't like Ponyo very much)

Sarah Elisa said...

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Christoph Rupprecht said...

Ok, I have to get in my 2 cents after reading these last comments...

I think Marnie is an absolute masterpiece. Complex characters, complex story that doesn't belittle the feelings of older children/young adults, stunning art and animation. Yes, it doesn't cater to the "we want cute Ghibli characters that will sell merchandise" crowd, or the "Ghibli = feel good entertainment" crowd. That's not how Yonebayashi works, it wasn't in Arrietty and it's even less so in Marnie.

I feel I'm not qualified to say anything about how Japanese would interpret a possible lesbian subtext, but I would argue that to focus on this point draws our attention away from the main point: Marnie is an intrinsically feminist film. It's the definition of a film that passes the Bechdel test, and in this regard eclipses both Nausicaä and Mononoke Hime - all male characters are supporting characters, because it's the girls and women who are the center of the story. I agree with Ambi Valent that love is a main topic, but the film does a brilliant job in leaving out any blunt sexual innuendo, making it clear that affection can be just as strong of a feeling (if not stronger!).

I left the theater deeply moved - and incredibly happy, because the fact that a male director can produce such a great film about girls/women fills me with hope that the walls between genders are truly crumbling. Yes, it's based on a novel, but still.

For me, Marnie is right up there with my favorites Whisper of the Heart, From up on Poppy Hill, and Nausicaä. That it's set in Hokkaido, a place I'm really fond of, is just a bonus.

Now I just hope we'll see more from Yonebayashi, and hopefully produced by Ghibli.

Blogan said...

Christoph, I just re-watched Marnie and, though in my previous comment I called it merely 'decent', I think I've developed a more thorough appreciation after seeing it a second time, and I think I may be leaning toward your description of the movie as a masterpiece. There were a lot of things I didn't pick up on the first time around, and a second viewing really helped. This is a truly beautiful movie.

Aside from the story and emotional impact, during my second viewing I noticed a lot of details in the animation that I didn't catch the first time; little subtleties like Anna's flawless movement when she is fumbling with a tomato in the garden, the way the characters' movements affect the rowboat, and a million other details that give the film a more believable feel. These are things Miyazaki and Takahata have mastered, but which we don't see very often in other directors (at least not with the same mastery). I, too, hope to see more from Yonebayashi.

Joe Muszynski said...

Saw "Marnie" last night and will have to agree with Christoph above. Perhaps because some of the themes deeply resonated with me, I also believe this film is a masterpiece. It's rather mature storyline dealing with the individual's perspective on self-worth, which in the end get resolved through adult's understanding the problems of children as well as the ability of children to push past their fears, is so relevant to today's world that I found it a remarkably moving film. It is so unlike most films being made - i.e, at the beginning, I felt the pacing was verging on Carl Dreyer, slowly letting the story unfold, but keeping me totally absorbed because the film was telling its story at its own pace - let alone most animated films these days. This is a pretty unique visionary film and I am glad that it can be produced by Studio Ghibli.

Ayumi Sophia said...

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nitrateglow said...

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O'Brien said...

Watching movie with my Japanese partner - he definitely detects lesbian subtext.

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