Directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Ghibli, the animated film “Totoro” was released in 1988 and tells the story of a pair of sisters who meet in the countryside in summer.
When his wife falls ill, his husband, Mr. Kusakabe, takes his two daughters, his sister, Koyuki, and his sister, Mei, and moves to the countryside where he lived and grew up as a child, a land that has long nurtured simple people and strange spirits that are unnoticeable to ordinary people. The most important feature of this perfect countryside in the movie is the vigorous life it shows: a random image from the movie will reveal the existence of life: farmers roll up their pants and plant rice seedlings in the water, lush green clustered around the earthen walls of alleys, dense trees towering into the clouds, moths hovering in the chinchilla’s habitat, and even the Japanese wooden house, which had been left unattended for a long time before the protagonist’s family moved in, is crowded with gray Elves – this is a small spider-like hairball creatures, Miyazaki prefers to use such harmless and timid creatures to decorate the film, such as the “Thousand and One” in the cinder block spirit. This ubiquitous natural life in the middle section is very prominent: Totoro cast a spell to make the acorn seeds break out of the ground, and then extremely dynamic and rapid growth, coiled together to form a trunk, and finally grow into a mushroom-shaped giant tree.
Miyazaki in “Totoro” abandoned all conventional dramatic conflict, suspenseful imagery and techniques are also presented in a witty way: in the mouth of the father and mother, exploring and living in the eerie haunted house is the dream of the young; the sisters yell towards the dark passage leading to the roof compartment, which disturbs the gray sprites living here; the wind is blowing at night, and the family is also laughing in the shivering wooden house. The gray elves drift away with the wind, looking for the next place of silence.
With her father working and her sister going to school, her carefree sister Mei becomes the first person to stumble upon the big chinchilla. She followed the little chinchilla into the bushes, crawled through the trail and then fell into a hole in a tree, where she found the big furry monster sleeping soundly. The whole process is almost the same as in the household fairy tale “Beauty in Wonderland”, where Beauty chases a rabbit and falls into a rabbit hole, and there is a one-way passage connecting reality and fantasy, leading to a new world full of fantasy things.
The big chinchilla, as the guardian god of the countryside, is the figurative natural will. In the face of Xiao Mei’s unexpected visit and curious prying, it greets her with a friendly and affectionate attitude. In terms of image shaping, the big chinchilla has a rounded body, highlighting its wholeness by shrinking and weakening its limbs, looking like a giant Halloween egg covered with fur, while at the same time having a light movement that does not match its body shape, with a grin that always gives the impression of a silly smile, while the arrow-shaped ears highlight its wisdom as a spiritual creature. The animation character.
The first time the film takes place is on a rainy night when Koyuki and Mei are waiting for their father to return from work at a mountain station. When the bus leaves and the sisters are left alone in the mountains, the rain falls and the big Totoro appears with a lotus leaf on its head. This segment does not directly show the full picture of the chinchilla, but takes the audience to take a closer look at this peculiar creature from Koyuki’s perspective: first the chinchilla’s feet appear under the edge of the umbrella, and then the sideways claws scratch the stomach restlessly, the fur is textured in the light and shadow, and finally the slim Koyuki and the chinchilla’s tall body form a contrast, which is quite comical. By borrowing an umbrella, Xiaoyue and the big chinchilla formally established a friendship, chinchilla like a child indulged in the fun brought by the water screen slapping on the umbrella; in the distance, the bus came along the slippery mountain road after the rain, only to find out that it was a cat bus with glowing eyes …… chinchilla on the cat bus gave Xiaoyue a pack of acorns before leaving, this happened in the quiet valley The strange encounter in the quiet valley came to an end.
Even though Totoro is the iconic character of the film, the movie is also named after Totoro, but in fact, Totoro only appears in the whole film for 15 minutes, only to add a touch of fairy tale color to the story, and the core is the relationship between people. The film features dry, short hair and yellow and orange clothing to reflect the energy and intelligence of Xiao Yue and the childish pink of Xiao Mei. They are in the prime of their lives, but they are vaguely worried about their ailing mother and long for another family reunion in the quiet countryside; the love-struck Kai clumsily expresses his love for Xiaoyue with pranks and funny faces, and also shyly lends her the only umbrella on rainy days, and also tries his best to help her find the missing Xiaomi at the end; the father loves and tolerates his daughter, and even when he is disturbed by Xiaomi at work, he does not get angry, nor does he The father loves and tolerates his daughter, even if she is disturbed by Xiao Mei at work, he does not get angry, nor does he ignore and deny his daughter’s fantasy story; the kind mother-in-law cares for the two sisters, and when Xiao Mei’s whereabouts is unknown, she trembles and closes her hands and prays that nothing bad will happen …… The film vividly shows the simple and kind character of people in the farming civilization and their sincere and frank attitude towards life.
In the second half of the film, upon hearing that her mother’s condition has worsened, the sisters disagree on their views of her mother. Xiao Mei, who has yet to understand, recklessly wants to be reunited with her mother. Xiao Yue scolds Xiao Mei for this, but inwardly she cannot hide her sadness and helplessness at the unexpected and helplessness. The sensitive Xiao Mei finally sets out alone to find the way to her mother’s hospital.
But it was all out of love. Xiao Mei expresses her anxiety in a childish manner because of her love for her mother, and Xiao Yue is willing to wait for her mother to recover because of her love for her. With the help of Totoro and Cat Ba, Xiaoyue finds the lost Xiaomei and they make up as before. Finally came to the hospital and found that the deterioration of his mother’s condition turned out to be a false alarm. Many years later, Xiao Yue and Xiao Mei have moved to other places, but this amazing experience in the summer in the countryside will always be a memory that they can not forget in their growing up.
A few years after the release of Totoro, Studio Ghibli produced two more nature-themed animated films, one directed by Hayao Miyazaki, “The Ghost Princess”, and the other directed by Takahata, “The Hundred Changing Cats”. The latter emphasizes the exploitation and suppression of natural culture by the urban culture represented by consumerism and the urbanization process of Japanese society, both of which are shrouded in a tone of sentimentality and loss, expressing the concern for the future. In “Totoro,” however, the story always embraces the humanistic sentiment that is carefully cared for, and the natural life of the countryside is eternally framed in its purest moments, where the birds and flowers, the gurgling streams never dry up, the blue sky never fades, and the laughter of the villagers never fades.