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.
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
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
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.
"â€¦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
AwardÂ®-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
"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
Kirkpatrick says. "But I was limited because the story had already been told.
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
clarity that fit within the existing story but to make it play for American
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
As Marshall explains, "Karey is one of our favorite family writers. His scripts
the Hedge' and 'Charlotte's Web' made him the perfect choice to adapt this
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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