“… Despite dealing with racism and child abuse and mental health, it finds moments of beauty and kindness. Moments where Marnie and Anna, two lost children, find hope and love in one another. Their connection crosses time and Death and makes both of them whole, gives them both strength to deal with who and what they are.” Edward J Rathke
I would like to write a brief reflection about one of my all-time favourite films ‘When Marnie Was There’, a fairly new animation put out by Studio Ghibli. I find this film so beautiful in both its simplicity and complexity. While seemingly a kid’s film, it is dark and deals with some very “adult” issues. I was struck by the maker’s insight into the psychology of its characters, and I feel in many ways Marnie represents Anna’s shadow self.
I see myself in Anna very much: in all she longs for and her longstanding alienation, abandonment, pain and self-loathing. In fact she is alone and misunderstood in pretty much every domain of life: family, the schoolyard, and her Japanese community/culture because of her race (Anna is bi-racial) and also, I might add, their little understanding of mental health issues, her panic attack interpreted as an asthma attack. She does not fit in anywhere and wanders the border, the in-between world. Anna ends up descending into what looks like psychosis, but it is also a deeply meaningful, esoteric experience which we come to understand more towards the end of the film. I find so much comfort in this character, and her idyllic yet rather fragile relationship with Marine reminds me of the relationships I’ve formed with cousellors over the years.
In this post I’d like to share this very poignant song which concludes the film.
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