The Secret World of Arrietty
Just where is the world of Arrietty?
It’s the same world as ours! The secret of her world is that it’s right in front of us. We can’t see it because it’s made up of the things we ignore. Her life is truly lived in the cracks of our world, between all the missing sugar cubes, inches of air between our walls, and single leaves of tea we never notice.
The world of her people – the Borrowers – is lived entirely out of our sight. An entire civilization can exist in the space we ignore.
Arriety and her family are tiny little people who have made their home in the small spaces between the walls of the houses of normal people. They survive by ‘borrowing’ – going on midnight raids to procure little bits of stuff that big people won’t miss. They take one sugar cube at a time, one sprig of thyme, one little toy tea cup.
The point is, we don’t pay attention.
The humans should have been paying attention – not so they could keep their stuff – but so they could see their own world become amazing again, as it is when we’re children.
How to see it
One normal-sized boy discovers the Borrowers. His ability to see them is almost unique. The reason he can see them is the peculiar insights gained from the knowledge of his impending death.
With a terminal illness, this boy has been granted a vision for this world that is beyond the normal vision. Now, neither the book nor the films make any mention of the boy possessing a super-power or anything. His ability to see is an existential thing. This happens to a lot of people. They notice things they never had before. Or maybe, they notice things they never had time for before.
There is an urgency to see what can be seen before the option of seeing is taken away. We can ignore this desire to look at our world because we’re not dying…at least, we’re not obviously dying. We choose to ignore the wonders of this world because we’re busy. Missing out on adventures and mysteries because we’re just too busy doing whatever we’ve filled our days with. Work and showers and eating and TV and (my own greatest nemesis, the Great Time-Waster) sleep. We not only miss the wonder of the world we also miss the action.
Thing is, we are dying. That urgency that the boy felt can … and maybe should … be felt by every one of us.
Arrietty on charity
The boy in this story was able to see Arrietty and her tiny little world. Because he saw her, he learned of her family’s plight. Because he knew, he helped.
Pretty simple right? We can become active in this world when we pay attention to it because we can become aware of its problems.
Wasn’t it frustrating watching Arrietty struggle so much with a sugar cube? We could deliver 100 sugar cubes in just a minute. The world is filled with people who can benefit from just a little help. A big difference can be made with little change to our daily lives.
But sometimes we encounter problems that do ask us to change our daily lives. If we help, things could get complicated or uncomfortable. If we help.
It can seem that our resources are tapped and we’re unable to help. Moving sugar cubes for a tiny person is easy. Sending off the cost of a cup of coffee – we can do it. Being kind to a jerk is hard. Being generous when oil prices just went up is hard.
But listen to this: If you’re a Christian, no problem is too big. You’re not the one doing the lifting! To God, all of our big problems are doable. Imagine how many good things you could do if you never had to worry about having a place to put your head at night; if you never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from; if you never had to worry about anything ever because the worst thing anybody can do to you is kill you, and you’re not even worried about that because there’s only one thing scarier and that’s losing your soul and God promised that your soul was safe! How much good could you do then?
Lots of little sugar cubes can be moved through your hands then, because you’d be letting God do all the work. You’ve got the strongest hands in the universe putting food in front of hungry people – through you! Giving shoes to poor people – through you! Moving hearts away from selfishness – through you!
This is a magical world, especially when we can see it the way that other people see it. The familiar becomes strange. And when we pay attention, we can see that these other people all need help and, if we’re Christians, we have a really strong and rich friend who can make things happen.
Jesus is like a friend with a pick-up, always free to help out on Saturdays, can lift any box, knows all the shortcuts when traffic gets backed up, and always covers your lunch when you forgot your wallet. And he’s eager to use his followers to help the needy people of this world. They just have to pay attention to the parts of the world they’re ignoring. It might even be right in front of them.
Big house. Get it?
This is a good movie
For a glimpse into the wonder of our world without having a terminal illness – watch this film.
This movie is my favorite from Studio Ghibli. I’ve enjoyed the others I’ve seen (Ponyo, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc), but none have the directness that this has. Refined to this world, with only one trick (the size of the Borrowers), the creative team had to find as much beauty in that situation as possible. There were no obscure (to me) mythologies strung together in a stream-of-consciousness style with bizarre transformations. Everything cool that happened in this movie is based on the physics and appearance of this world.
By restricting themselves to an established set of rules, all the energy and creativity is just bursting in every scene.
And it’s clean. And cute. And funny. And everything good.
Tomorrow on Geeks of Christ: