‘When Marnie Was There’: Learning to love in the face of trauma

The latest — and sadly final — release from Japanand’s legendary animation studio Ghibli, which has put a halt to its production, comes in the form of and”When Marnie Was Thereand” (Omoide No Mani) directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and adapted from Joan G. Robinsonand’s novel of the same name.
This is a delicate film in spirit, and while the animation is impeccable as always, it is the storyand’s fearless heart that dares to plunge into complex themes of loneliness, depression and the phobia of being abandoned.
It is definitely not a crowd pleaser, and in fact parents and children might have reservations when not immediately faced with the feel-good, uplifting world of Ghibli. Nevertheless, this film deserves a chance, and will surely affect those who are looking for something deeper about the human psyche from the animation genre.
Meet adolescent Anna. She sits alone by the playground drawing pictures as the other kids frolic around merrily. She tells herself, and”Itand’s like there is an invisible, magical circle where everyone belongs, and I am not included.and” Five minutes later she finds herself having one of her usual asthma attacks and declares that she hates herself.
Anna is not someone the viewer will immediately empathize with, for her tantrums and insecurities almost always get in the way of any possible social interaction. Yet she has her reasons: After losing her family to a car accident at a very young age she has been put with a family under foster care. She blames her biological family for abandoning her and cannot forgive them. Although her foster mother tries her best to make Anna comfortable, the girl canand’t bring herself to believe that her foster mother might actually love her.
Sent off to the countryside to live with the relatives of her foster mother, Annaand’s life enters a period of positive change. Finding solace in the beautiful landscape and the benevolence of the community that doesnand’t seem to mind her eccentricities, she starts going for long walks in the forest and discovers an abandoned lake house. There she meets the charming Marnie. They become friends and Anna, for the first time in her life, experiences the true meaning of sharing and unconditional love in a reciprocal way. The only problem is that Marnie might not in fact exist — either she is a ghost, a figment of Annaand’s imagination, or maybe a girl who actually lives in a parallel universe.
The story is open to all these possibilities regarding this girland’s origin, but this ethereal predicament never gets in the way of showing the emotional journey and transformation of Anna, who comes to realize that being vulnerable is the only way to truly connect with the people around her, whether they are real or unreal.
The dots will gradually be connected as we move toward the climactic last act and we finally realize who Marnie really is and in what way she is actually connected to Anna. The final sequence causes tears to well up in our eyes without ever exploiting our feelings.
What is so remarkable about this slow-paced and touching film is that it takes on the risk of exploring complicated human feelings through female friendship, taking into account all the negative and positive emotional ebbs and flows of relationships.
Anna, sometimes without knowing, hurts the people around her, especially those close to her, just like adolescents in real life. Gradually she comes to realize, with the help of Marnieand’s compassionate and forgiving personality, that she is not the only one suffering loss in this world and that she has to be considerate of and engage with other people in her environment.
Thankfully, Anna will indeed come to abandon her off-putting withdrawn and acerbic attitude and evolve into a more complete person who tries to overcome her insecurities.
The magical visual world of and”When Marnie Was Thereand” is also one of the key elements of this enchanting film. The vivid colors of the countryside and the kinetic energy that Studio Ghibli puts into the expressions and mannerisms of its characters form a heightened reality that capture the verisimilitude of the drama. Once transported to this place, the viewer enjoys every bit of brush and color and never wishes to leave.
This might not be the studioand’s strongest film due to its intimate and personal story, but it surely is one of its most unforgettable works.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman