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‘Innocence has a catalytic effect on the absorption of magic.” These words, from the worryingly named Doctor Dee, are a very good description of the film’s ethos. This Japanese animation is from director Hiromasa “Maro” Yonebayashi, who made When Marnie Was There for Studio Ghibli. It is another example of that remarkable way in which Japanese animation is reviving the memory of classic English children’s literature from the 1960s and 70s – otherwise forgotten in its native land.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower is adapted from the 1971 novel The Little Broomstick, by the prolific popular author Mary Stewart. A little English girl called Mary (voiced by Hana Sugisaki in the original, and by Ruby Barnhill – from Spielberg’s The BFG – in the dubbed version) is a lonely child living with her great-aunt in the countryside while her parents are away. She encounters a local boy called Peter (Ryonosuke Kamiki/Louis Serkis) whom she dislikes at first for his nasty, teasing ways. But Peter’s cats Tib and Gib lead Mary to what are supposed to be magical flowers and then to a mysterious broomstick entombed in a tree trunk – all of which takes her to an extraordinary school for witches, governed by Madame Bumblechook (Yuki Amami/Kate Winslet) and her sinister associate, Doctor Dee (Fumiyo Kohinata/Jim Broadbent).
And so a magical adventure of discovery and rescue has begun. The film has charm as well as a certain deja vu for audiences, although for me it didn’t quite have the distinction of Marnie.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Mary and the Witch’s Flower review – charming Japanese children’s adventure | Animation in film