Wednesday 4 January 2017

When Marnie was there – The stories that matter

Happy stories.
Sad stories.
Stories about people, and ghosts, and memories.
Stories that move us.
Stories that make us cry.
And does it matter if they are in English or Hindi, Japanese or French?
Whether they are colour or black-and-white, live-action or animation?
Whether a still picture tells a long story, and a three-hour movie tells none?

When Marnie was there is a feature-length anime based on a 1967 novel by the same name. Depicted in an anime style reminiscent of TV cartoons, it tells the story of Anna, a tomboyish girl with a talent for drawing whose sense of isolation leads her to be silent, cut-off from her peers and rejecting her mother’s love. As the asthmatic Anna is sent to stay with relatives in a seaside village to recover her health, we are told that she is in fact a foster child. Her isolation continues as she is rude to the local children, and prefers to sketch the countryside by herself. It is while on a solitary walk that she sees a European-style mansion by the side of a marshy lake. Anna becomes fascinated by it and is disappointed to find it abandoned and decaying. But on her second excursion there, she meets and befriends a beautiful blonde girl named Marnie who lives there. Marnie and Anna enjoy each other’s company, going on picnics and rowing and even attending a party at the mansion. Anna opens up about her own troubles and Marnie shares her own sorrows, and we see both characters find an endearing faith and trust in each other over the course of the story.

The mystery of Anna’s condition, Marnie’s true identity and more unfolds slowly, and it would be difficult to have a dry eye by the end.

When Marnie was there was nominated for the Oscars in 2016, and it is easy to see why. Animation is beautiful while staying true to the spirit of anime, and the music score is perfectly suited to the subject. And the story, that is paramount, front and centre, unfolding in layers comprised of touching visuals and dialogue.

A story that touches the heart.
A sad story, but a happy one too.
A story about people, ghosts and memories.

And yes, for this one, it’s all right to cry.

1 comment: