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THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY

The English-Language Adaptation
Japanese audiences were the first to take "The Secret World of Arrietty" to their hearts when it was released in 2010. With more than 12 million viewers, it became the highest grossing film at the box office that year and went on to win the Animation of the Year Award. It was then released in Asia and Europe, where it delighted moviegoers in many countries.

"The Secret World of Arrietty" has already proven its broad audience appeal and garnered critical acclaim around the world. Now, with the English-language version of the film, North American viewers of all ages who appreciate beautiful animation and compelling stories will have an opportunity to be equally enchanted by what David Gritten Insects, animals and plants coexist in mutual prosperity on this Earth. There are no boundaries between living things. No one possesses the right to divide resources into yours and mine. Every living thing survives simply by borrowing from nature. There is nothing for anyone-human, animal or plant-to possess. We human beings used to live harmoniously with nature, just as these tiny people do. -Hayao Miyazaki

To achieve the elevated level of technical sophistication expected from both Studio Ghibli and Walt Disney Animation Studios, renowned producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy ("War Horse," "The Adventures of Tintin"), who previously worked with Walt Disney Animation Studios on the English-language adaptation of Studio Ghibli's award-winning animated international box office hit "Ponyo," were asked once again to bring their skills to the English-language dubbed version of "The Secret World of Arrietty." Ardent admirers of the imaginative work of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, as well as the source material novels by Mary Norton, Kennedy and Marshall were delighted to offer their talents to this latest masterpiece. As Marshall says, "We always look for a good story and this is a wonderful one."

Among the most admirable aspects of "The Secret World of Arrietty" are the beauty and purity and innocence in the film. "It's a modest, quiet, humble film," Kennedy says of her response to the movie. "I enjoy the scaling differences between Arrietty's tiny world and the one we're familiar with. I think the message of the film is, whether you're big or small, there is a beautiful world around us and we should all try to live together in peace and have an optimistic view of the world."

Marshall adds, "It's a movie about underdogs and operates with a quiet tone and undercurrent of environmentalism, which is a theme that pops up quite often in Studio Ghibli films."

Arrietty and her family represent nature and the small things that one rarely thinks about--blades of grass, bugs--life that is usually tucked away in the environment and that has learned to live underfoot. They've learned to borrow from the planet only what is necessary to survive and will allow for comfortable living.

"…Ravishingly colorful and textured. Animation doesn't get better than 'Arrietty.'" -David Gritten of "The Daily Telegraph" in London

"It's also a movie about forgiveness," Marshall says. "Arrietty realizes the risk that the young character Shawn has put himself in by trying to keep her and her family safe. In her quiet goodbye she wishes him the best with his upcoming surgery. Although he has unintentionally caused her family much uprooting and destruction, she knows that he never meant to harm her. It is this forgiveness, this understanding, that makes the movie's ending so beautiful."

Kennedy adds, "As humans, we can sometimes be small-minded and selfish and create havoc in the world, but from the people who want to protect our planet, we can be forgiven, and we can work together to steer this Earth to a more peaceful and harmonious place."

For many technical reasons, creating an English-language adaptation of "The Secret World of Arrietty" that would live up to the monumental popularity and triumph of the Japanese-language version was a great task for the American filmmakers. "The biggest challenge was to sync the actor's voices with the characters, as they are now speaking English instead of Japanese," Marshall says.

Because of his success working with Studio Ghibli as director of "Tales from Earthsea," seven-time Academy Award®-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom (17 Oscar nominations including his sound design work on this year's Best Picture nominee "War Horse," as well as "Saving Private Ryan," "Titanic," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day") was engaged to direct "The Secret World of Arrietty." "Gary has done sound design on many of our movies and has recently started to direct projects for Studio Ghibli and Pixar," Kennedy adds. "Gary has a good character and story sense and with his experience with sound design he was able to handle the technical challenges."

"There's really no other job quite like working on a Studio Ghibli film for English-language audiences," Rydstrom proudly says. "Normally, when you record voices for an animated film, you're recording before there's much animation. You're discovering the story and building up the script and the characters and the dialogue as you go along. With 'Arrietty,' we had to fit everything into the existing story. In this case we took a translation of the Japanese and Karey Kirkpatrick wrote a unified script in English."

This was an incredibly tricky endeavor. Of course, the dialogue had to fit the syllables that matched what had been originally spoken on screen. "We were doing our version and fitting it to animation that had already been done," Rydstrom explains. "Our actors weren't speaking anything like what the sound is in Japanese. We had to have the English sentences be fun and make sense and be dramatic, but everything had to fit into the length of the syllables of what was originally spoken on screen."

Even for prolific screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," "The Spiderwick Chronicles"), this was a complicated endeavor. He had to not only maintain the integrity of the story but also find words that fit the lip movement of the characters when the voice talent dubbed their roles.

"A writer wants to bring his skill set and experiences to any writing project," Kirkpatrick says. "But I was limited because the story had already been told. Any changes that I might want to make for an American viewing audience was harder because a lot of the choices were already made. Therefore, my mission was to bring clarity that fit within the existing story but to make it play for American sensibilities without destroying what Studio Ghibli does so well."

Kirkpatrick was personally selected by producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall to write the English-language screenplay for "The Secret World of Arrietty." As Marshall explains, "Karey is one of our favorite family writers. His scripts for 'Over the Hedge' and 'Charlotte's Web' made him the perfect choice to adapt this story."

Kirkpatrick recalls, "I'd written a couple of movies with Kathy and Frank, and one day Frank came to me and asked if I was busy. I was in fact writing another film, but he joked that I could surely squeeze in a script for 'Arrietty.' I've been "I love working with a fan of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's work for a long time, so I said yes, I would love to do the job." However, Kirkpatrick found that the assignment was more daunting than it originally seemed. "When I first sat down to write, I thought, Wow, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be," the writer says of his experience. "I had to construct sentences in w

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