Best of friends

Studio Ghi­bli makes what may be its fi­nal bow with When Marnie Was There

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

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.

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