Film Review: Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower is an enchanting fantasy adventure. The film combines beautiful animation and an entertaining story.

Mary is a young girl living in the countryside with her great aunt. With friends around, one day Mary follows a mysterious cat which leads her to a broomstick and an unusual looking flower…

Based on the story The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, Mary and the Witch’s Flower combines the charm of Studio Ponoc (founded by Studio Ghibli alums including Yoshiaki Nishimura) and a quintessentially English setting. And indeed, even the fantasy seems to combine the folklore of Britain with the imagination of the Japanese filmmakers. 

The narrative at first seems to be something of a coming of age tale for the protagonist. Mary is a young girl in a new place, who needs to settle into her new life. However, the film develops into something more, thanks to good storytelling. The protagonist is developed well as the film progresses.

Whilst the focus is on Mary, other characters are however developed sufficiently for their roles. Mary and the Witch’s Flower provides contrasting archetypes, yet the villains are not quite as clear cut as they first appear. It is certainly a positive thing that the antagonists do not fully adhere to archetypes. Although the film does follow an expected path, it is by no means totally predictable. The film depicts magic in an interesting light. There is the element of power and control which appears in other fantasy films of this ilk, but also a question of the ethics of its use.

In the English-dubbed version, Ruby Barnhill is well cast as the voice of Mary. She is ably assisted by Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent. The animation is as lush as one would expect from the studio. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a great movie for both children and adults. The film is engaging and enchanting.

Previews: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Featurette, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions includes the latest Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette, The New Mutants, and more…

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Featurette

Ahead of the trailer’s launch tomorrow, this Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom featurette reveals a little bit more about the plot and characters. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return, and are joined by Jurassic Park royalty Jeff Goldblum. A Monster Calls‘ J.A. Bayona directs this sequel, taking the helm from Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits UK screens on 7th June 2018.

The New Mutants Poster

Here is the new poster for the forthcoming The New Mutants. The film is part of the X-Men franchise, and is about the first graduates from Charles Xavier’s school. The film looks like something different from the superhero genre, in that there is an emphasis on horror rather than just action adventure. The New Mutants will be released in 2018.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower Trailer

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the first feature from Studio Ponoc, formed by Studio Ghibli alums. The film is about a young girl who discovers a flower which gives her the power to be a witch. Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There), the English voice cast features Ruby Barnhill, Kate Winslet, and Jim Broadbent. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is scheduled for release in UK cinemas in Spring 2018.

A Matter of Life and Death Trailer

Here is a trailer for the 4K restoration of the Powell & Pressburger’s classic A Matter of Life and Death. The film was originally released in 1946, and combines fantasy and romance as an air force pilot is given additional time on Earth by an afterlife jury. Starring David Niven, a 4K restoration of A Matter of Life and Death will be released in UK cinemas on 8th December 2017.