The iconic Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli may not have made a new movie since 2014, but the spirit lives on with the new Studio Ponoc (featuring a few members of the Ghibli team) and their first movie, Mary And The Witch’s Flower.
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who made Ghibli’s Arrietty and When Marnie Was There, this beautiful adventure is based on The Little Broomstick story by Mary Stewart. It begins with an edge of the seat action sequence as a young witch escapes from a fiery castle on a broomstick followed by flying monsters, and then drops us into the bedroom of schoolgirl Mary (voiced in the dubbed version by The BFG’s Barnhill). Bored at the prospect of spending summer with her great aunt, she finds things a bit more interesting once she discovers a broomstick and a special ‘fly by night’ flower in the woods that lead her to a school for witches in the sky.
As you’d expect from Hiromasa Yonebayashi and his team, the animation is colourful and stunning to look at, and while the story is slighter than some of Ghibli’s output, it is nonetheless charming and magical, with a strong, sparky heroine at its core. Barnhill is terrific as the voice of Mary and there is nice support from Winslet, Broadbent and Ewen Bremner too.
Is Mary And The Witch’s Flower suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The opening sequence, in which the girl escapes from a blazing castle and is pursued by mysterious creatures, may scare very young (under age 6) children.
Sensitive and very young children may be scared by the evil witch.
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