Challenging Lutgendorf's Ideas within his Article through Hayao Miyazaki's Film, Spirited Away

Challenging Lutgendorf's Ideas within his Article through Hayao Miyazaki's Film, Spirited Away

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Intro: The discourse of film is a questionable field of study in its own respect. To say whether a film is influence or not by another medium is a problematic area as there are many factors to account for which can influence an artist’s project. In Philip Lutgendorf’s article, Is There An Indian Way of Filmmaking? (2006), he attempts to suggest how texts from the Indian cultural heritage could be used for the discourse of both Indian cinema as well as to the study of cinema itself, which justifies discussion. This essay will attempt to challenge Lutgendorf’s ideas within his article through Hayao Miyazaki’s film, Spirited Away (2001) through the discussion of manga/animae origin, Japanese mythology, and genre hybridity.
Plot Summary: Spirited Away introduces the protagonist of the film, a little girl named Chihiro in the back seat of her parent’s car. Chihiro and her family are driving to their new house located in the Japanese country side. However, Chihiro takes a wrong turn and ends up at an entrance to a tunnel. The family then explores this tunnel, and finds themselves on the other side of the tunnel where they discover an abandoned amusement park. Chihiro’s parents then follow the smell of food, and begin to eat the food. Chihiro then discovers that her parents have turned into pigs and that she is in the middle of town which is inhabited by spirits, demons and magical beings. Chihiro manages to find a job at a bath house owned by a witch named Yubaba in order for her to survive in this new world, and to save her parents from their cursed position.
Historical Context: Similar to the colonisation of India, Japan underwent colonisation after the nations defeat in WWII, and fell under the American hegemonic power and occupa...


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...For Lutgendorf to say that Indian films are not based off epic Sanskrit texts and mythologies is a problematic statement as it assumes that all popular films are not “based on epic archetypes” (230). Spirited Away highlights the complexity of genre through interwoven elements of romance, adventure, animation, and mythology. The film itself is entrenched with various influences of traditional Japanese folk tales and classic western stories, which evoke various different emotions. This text rewards and celebrates its cultural history and practice.



Works Cited

Lutgendorf, Philip. “Is There an Indian Way of Filmmaking?” International Journal of Hindu
Studies, 10.3 (2006): 227-256.

Spirited Away. Dir. Hayao Miyazaki. Toho. 2001. Film.

Reider, Noriko T. “Spirited Away: Film of the Fantastic and Evolving Japanese Folk Symbol” Film Criticism 29, no. 3. (2005): 4-27.

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