My Neighbor Totoro

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One of the most endearing and internationally renowned family films of all time, a film that Roger Ebert called “one of the five best movies” ever made for children, Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro is a deceptively simple tale of two girls, Satsuki and Mei, who move with their father to a new house in the countryside. They soon discover that the surrounding forests are home to a family of Totoros, gentle but powerful creatures who live in a huge and ancient camphor tree and are seen only by children. Based on Miyazaki’s own childhood imaginings, Totoros look like oversized pandas with bunny ears and they take the girls on spinning-top rides through the tree tops and introduce them to a furry, multi-pawed Catbus — a nod to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat. But beneath the film’s playfulness and narrative simplicity lie depths of wisdom. As with much of Miyazaki’s work, at its core My Neighbor Totoro is about human-kind’s relationship to the Earth, and viewers are left with a sense of wonder at the beauty, mystery and preciousness of the world around us. (Dir. by Hayao Miyazaki, 1988, Japan, in Japanese with English subtitles, 86 mins, Rated G) Digital