Title: When Marnie Was There
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Genre: Animation

Studio Ghibli does it again. Be prepared because this is not a movie for little kids. The profound delving within the human perturbations, concerning identity and family, are majestically portrayed in a poetic story told through old school drawing.

The narrative adapts a 1967 British classic children’s book by Joan Gale Robinson. The book – considered by Hayao Miyazaki one of the 50 books that have most influenced his work – was given by the Nipponic maestro to Hiromasa Yonebayashi, with the request to adapt it for animation.

‘Omoide no Marnie’ is the story of Anna, who one summer is sent from her foster home in the city of Sapporo to a sleepy town by the sea in Hokkaido. On one of Anna’s sketching tours in the marshes, she encounters a seaside mansion occupied by a charming girl named Marnie, who becomes Anna’s friend. One question lingers until the heartening revelation: who is Marnie? This is the key to the story whose central focus is feeling. But  the sentiment between the tomboyish cropped brunette and the exquisitely curly locked blue-eyed blonde is not a romance. It’s a friendship that breaks the laws of time through the powers of our minds.

When we hear about “Marnie” our memories will lead us back to Hitchcock. Despite Yonebayashi does not put that amount of thrill, psychology does take centre stage, as the young protagonist enters a physical and allegorical “Secret Garden” that will change her life forever.

The beauty of the film is the pace. Anna believes she is outside the invisible magic circle to which most people belong – and shuts herself off from everyone around her. Marnie manages to break Anna free and reconnect her with her own persona, by sharing an extraordinary journey through a dreamlike fantasy that becomes real.

Technical: A
Story: A
Overall: A 
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi


By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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