‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’ film review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
After When Marnie was There was released in 2014, it was unknown if Studio Ghibli would make another film. They are indeed still making films, and their next one will be a live-action film called How Do You Live? However, the studio underwent a lot of changes, including key people stepping down from their roles. Also, some of the people who worked in Studio Ghibli left the company and formed a new studio called Studio Ponoc. Last year, Studio Ponoc released their first film, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which has the spirit of Studio Ghibli’s early films.
Mary Smith (Ruby Barnhill) lives with her Aunt Charlotte (Lynda Baron) and their maid, Miss Banks (Morwenna Banks), and she does not do much in the house aside from helping their handyman, Zebedee (Rasmus Hardiker). When Mary finds a flower called fly-by-night and a broomstick in the forest, once she squishes the flower the broomstick flies her to a magical place called Endor College. She then sees the headmistress of the college, Madame Mumblechook (Kate Winslet), and a chemistry teacher named Doctor Dee (Jim Broadbent). They are both amazed at Mary’s spellcasting abilities, and when they find out that she has fly-by-night, spectacular things happen.
This is one of the most exciting anime films in a very long time and the most exciting since Ponyo. Part of the thrill is that it has a lot of explosions, and I am not talking about Michael Bay explosions—these are Ghibli explosions like the ones in Castle in the Sky.
Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi continues to make films based on British books, with Mary and the Witch’s Flower based on the book The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. The film is especially similar to Kiki’s Delivery Service. For example, one of the cats that we see in the film, Tib, is similar to Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service except that he does not talk. Also, Endor College looks similar to Hogwarts, so you could say that the film is like Harry Potter with the unusual aspects of Studio Ghibli. However, unlike Studio Ghibli, where they tend to end a film with a soft song, Mary and the Witch’s Flower ends with a pop song, and the theme song is made by famous Japanese group Sekai No Owari (End of the World).
While some of the people of Studio Ghibli left to be part of the new studio, Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki supported the film. It is a great first film for Studio Ponoc.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower will be available on DVD and Blu-ray soon.