Written and directed by one of the world's master animators, Japan's Hayao Miyazaki, “Spirited Away” will be shown at the Smith Opera House on Feb. 27.
“Spirited Away” starts with a skittish, reluctant Chihiro (voiced by Daveigh Chase, Lilo of “Lilo & Stitch”) sulking in the back seat of a car taking her and her parents to their new suburban home. She's unhappy at leaving familiar surroundings behind and not at all mollified when her mother says her new life will be an adventure. Chihiro's father takes a wrong turn and thinks he sees a shortcut through the woods that will solve his problems. The family ends up in front of a mysteriously beckoning tunnel that leads to what looks like an abandoned theme park. Chihiro doesn't want to enter, but her mother and father, lured by intoxicating smells, insist the family plunge ahead. Although no one's around, they discover tables piled high with food so irresistible that the parents, suddenly losing all restraint, dig in with savage gusto. “Don't worry,” Chihiro's father says between heaping mouthfuls, “you've got daddy here.” Then, suddenly, everything goes incredibly wrong, and Chihiro finds herself on her own in this decidedly spectral environment.
In a panic, she comes upon an enormous building and watches in an astonishment we share as a ferry pulls up and unloads one of the strangest cargoes in film history. The structure turns out to be a bathhouse for the gods, a place where all kinds of nonhuman spirits come to refresh, relax and recharge. Coming to her aid is Haku (Jason Marsden), a severe-looking boy with a Prince Valiant haircut. “Don't be afraid, I just want to help you,” he says, and Chihiro begins to feel that she and he have met somewhere before. Haku sends Chihiro to one of the bathhouse's oddest corners, the boiler room, where tiny, skittish motes of dust deliver coal to the furnace one lump at a time and the wily six-armed Kamaji (David Ogden Stiers), looking like a hipster-anarchist with his round dark glasses and bushy mustache, is very much in charge.
“Spirited Away” will be screened at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 and 28, and at 2 p.m. on March 2. All seats are $3. This film is rated PG for some scary moments. Its running time is 2hours, 5 minutes.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. Call 315-781-LIVE or toll-free 1-866-355 LIVE for additional information. The Smith is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.