Spirited Away

Hayao Miyazaki

Master animator Hayao Miyazaki tells the adventure of 10-year-old Chihiro in an alternate reality ruled by the witch, Yubaba. In her effort to return to the human world, Chihiro successfully endures tests of greed, loyalty and sacrifice. On a deeper level the film portrays the threats encountered during a quest for personal identity — moral degradation brought about by consumerism (represented by Chihiro’s gluttonous parents) as well as the darkness inherent in one’s soul. The movie also sensitively touches on environmental destruction. So flawless and mesmerising is Miyazaki’s animation that Chihiro’s newfound maturity is literally tangible to the audience.

Ratatouille

Brad Bird

How big can one dream? Remy, a sewer rat, aspires to become a star chef just like his idol, Auguste Gusteau, whose motto ‘Anyone can cook’ drives his determination. His family’s apprehensions of the fate of a rat in the human world don’t deter him from forging an alliance with a culinary-challenged garbage boy in a famous Parisian restaurant with successful results. But with the discovery of their secret, Remy starts to doubt whether he really can break stereotypes and follow his passion for food. The film maintains that no dream is too big no matter how small one is.

Persepolis

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

This autobiographical movie about a girl’s rite of passage is brilliantly depicted in glaring contrasts. Colourful scenes portraying life and hope are contrasted against the blocky, black-and-white drawings of the flashbacks which represent uncertainty of life in war-torn Iran. The outspoken criticism of the regime by the rebellious protagonist, Marjane, is in stark contrast to the sea of silent and submissive black-clad women. And a few genuinely witty situations ease the tension of an otherwise grim film. The movie is also a salute to the irrepressible female spirit as depicted in the heart-warming bond between Marjane and her grandmother. Though animation, the complex theme and intermittent profanities clearly label this an adult movie.

Whisper Of The Heart

Yoshifumi Kondo

The animation in this deceptively simple girl-meets-boy high school love story teems with the little mundane details of ordinary lives — from the clutter in a small apartment, to rush hour traffic, to apparently insignificant sightings like a stray cat teasing a dog. The confessions of love in a sun-dappled courtyard, and the conversation on the windy school terrace between the main characters all capture the mood of young love through beautiful drawings. Another highlight is a delightful violin version of the song ‘Country Roads’. In short, a visually enchanting coming-of-age movie, the depth of its maturity belies the simplistic treatment of the theme.

Osmosis Jones

Peter Farelly and Bobby Farelly

This live action/animation film revolves around the illness of Frank Detorre, a slovenly zookeeper with an appalling sense of hygiene. While Frank’s life is shown as live action, the bodily complications of the illness are in animation. The hero is, very appropriately, a white blood cell (or leukocyte) named Osmosis ‘Ozzy’ Jones, who is a member of the police department. He teams up with a rookie cold-pill named Drix to bring the causative virus to ‘justice’. The imaginative yet appropriate usage of medical terms in creating anthropomorphic body cells, as well as the comparison of the protagonist’s body, called The City of Frank, with the workings and the politics of a real-life city, make for hilarious viewing.

Those that almost made the list:

Princess Mononoke: Hayao Miyazaki

The Triplets of Belleville: Sylvain Chomet

Flushed Away: David Bowers and Sam Fell

Wallace And Gromit: Nick Park

Sajna V.M. Kutty is a pathologist from Kozhikode. She loves watching all kinds of cinema especially animated films.