A massively entertaining Japanese animated movie which is more English than the English
- Mary and the Witch's Flower review by PV
It's no surprise this is based on a children's novel - The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart first published in 1971 though reminiscent of the 1950s really.
It's quintessentially English, set in an unspecified past (no mobile phones or TV in the house - and the children's names Mary and Peter are not names many kids have these days - they were common in the 1950s).
I thoroughly enjoyed this film - the animation is lovely with great attention to detail, and the story has great pace and dramatic tension.
OK so the children have the typically huge blue eyes and button noses of stylised characters in MANGA comics - and NO-ONE at all looks Japanese. Also, this is happily free of 'politically correct' racial diversity quotas - no token black faces parachuted into the English countryside, as in TV drama like the new Midsomer Murders. That is accurate - the Welsh and English countryside is practically 100% white and I have never ever seen a black police officer in Wales or the English countryside! If the BBC or any British or US studio had made this film, you can be sure some of the book's characters would be made black!
Being about a school for witches and warlocks, an immediate comparison will be made to Harry Potter - and the film cleverly gives a nod to this, featuring a Harry Potter lookalike in one scene - a broomstick-riding lesson - which was great fun. BUT JK Rowling did not invent the concept of a boarding school story - she stole it. There have been trainee wizards before in novels, poems and films (eg The Sorcerer's Apprentice). And this movie is FAR more entertaining than ANY Harry Potter film imho.
I chuckled at some things the animators got so wrong though - especially the food. The girl Mary eats ham and pea/bean sandwiches at one point (those beans look typically Japanese) and when the family sits down to dinner, they are eating very non-English Japanese food combinations with a separate rice bowl LOL!
But these anomalies are charming rather than annoying! And thankfully this film is not TOO long and never gets boring.
Some great British character actors do the voices - Jim Broadbent plays the mad scientist Dr Dee (so-named after John Dee the 16th Century alchemist surely?) and Rasmus Hardiker who, despite his youth, voices the old gardener Zebedee perfectly. I see Andy Serkis managed to get the boy role gig for his son too!
A hugely enjoyable animation. 5 stars.
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful.
An enjoyable film for all ages
- Mary and the Witch's Flower review by Cliff
Very much enjoyed this film. The dialogue is in good colloquial English, well acted, and the countryside looks English too. As a children's fantasy adventure it works well, and for adults there is some food for thought. The key spell "What's done is done - until it's undone" is surely a response to the themes of climate change and extinction, those creations of our own 'magic'.
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