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Ghibli's Next Film Adapts Mary Norton's The Borrowers (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo

The official website for Studio Ghibli's next project, an adaptation of Mary Norton's The Borrowers (Yukashita no Kobito-tachi) novel, has launched on Thursday. Studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki has been planning the Karigurashi no Arrietty (The Borrower Arrietty) film since July of 2008, but as previously revealed by producer Toshio Suzuki, Miyazaki is not directing the next film. 36-year-old animator Hiromasa Yonebayashi is making his directorial debut with this project. The film will open in the summer of 2010.

The original, Carnegie Medal-winning 1952 novel revolves around the "little people" — 10 centimeters (about 4 inches) tall — who live underneath the floorboards of an English country house. (The Japanese title literally means "the little people under the floor.") 14-year-old Arrietty and the rest of the Clock family live in peaceful anonymity as they make their own home from items "borrowed" from the house's human inhabitants. However, life changes for the Clocks when a human boy discovers Arrietty. Ghibli's adaptation will transport the setting from 1950s England to the Tokyo neighborhood of Koganei in 2010. (Koganei in western Tokyo is the home of a number of Japanese animation studios, including Ghibli itself.)

Yonebayashi was an assistant animation director of Ghibli's Gedo Senki, and he was an animation director on the Mei to Konekobasu theatrical short. He was also a key animator on Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, and Spirited Away. Yonebayashi joined Ghibli in 1996, but Miyazaki and fellow Ghibli founder Isao Takahata had been contemplating an adaptation of The Borrowers for about 40 years.

Cécile Corbel, a Breton folk-singer & Celtic harpist from France, co-wrote and performed the theme song "Arriety's Song." The song will be available on December 19 from several Japanese music distribution services, including Apple's iTunes Store.

The novel has already been adapted into live-action in English three times — in 1973, 1992, and 1997.

Image © 2010 GNDHDDTW

Update: More background and story information added.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

Update 2: Ticket Pia News notes that Yonebayashi will be the youngest director ever of a Ghibli film. Miyazaki was already 43 when Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind opened, and Takahata was 52 when Grave of the Fireflies opened. The only other directors of Ghibli feature films were Yoshifumi Kondô (Whisper of the Heart at 45 years old), Hiroyuki Morita (The Cat Returns at 38), and Goro Miyazaki (Gedo Senki at 39).

According to Miyazaki's first planning document from 2008, the film was to be titled Chiisana Arrietty and was to be 80 minutes long. The title changed, and the final runtime has yet to be announced.

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