Best of friends
Studio Ghibli makes what may be its final bow with When Marnie Was There
After turning The Borrowers into 2010’s The Secret World Of Arrietty, Studio Ghibli has proved itself adept at adapting classic British stories into Japanese animated movies. Now, with what could possibly be its last film following the retirement of founder Hayao Miyazaki in 2014, the legendary Tokyo studio has adapted another children’s favourite with When Marnie Was There, which is based on Joan G Robinson’s 1967 novel of the same name.
“When the producer, Toshio Suzuki, showed me the book, I read it and thought that it was very moving,” says director Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who also helmed Arrietty. “But I thought it would be very difficult to visualise in a film, as most of the original novel was about internal turmoil. So I began to imagine some things that were not in the original novel, such as the dance sequences at the mansion.”
With Yonebayashi stressing that, “it is not a ghost story,” the film centres around troubled teenager Anna, who forms a close relationship with the mysterious Marnie after relocating to the countryside. “Marnie is Anna’s imaginary friend, she’s sort of her creation, her ideal friend in her mind,” explains Yonebayashi, who utilises Anna’s constant sketching to bring her emotions to life on the screen.
While Marnie still boasts distinctive blonde hair and blue eyes, the setting has been changed from Norfolk to rural Japan. “When Mr Suzuki asked me to do that, it seemed like the natural thing to do because it would be easier for the Japanese audiences to relate to,” says Yonebayashi. “We’ve also kept the cloudy skies from the original book, as how Anna feels is reflected in the scenery.”
When Marnie Was There opens in June.
Check out our review of the film on page 96.