When Marnie Was There (Again)

It's only a year ago since I last read (re-read!) Joan G. Robinson's When Marnie Was There, so I'll spare you my thoughts, which are pretty much the same as last time. Suffice to say that this is one of my favourite childhood books, for many reasons.

But now I have also watched the Studio Ghibli film adaptation, so I might tell you about that. Book to film adaptations are always tricky, but this one did a pretty good job of preserving the dreamy, lonely atmosphere of the book, the beautiful setting of the marshes and the sea, and the friendship between two isolated children, who are linked in a way that isn't revealed until the end of the story. It was slightly weird, but not jarring, to see Anna transplanted to contemporary Japan, eating with chopsticks and riding fast trains.

The major difference to me was that Robinson's book is divided into two clear halves, the first dealing with Anna's friendship with Marnie, and the second to her friendship with the Lindsay family, who uncover the secret of Marnie's identity. In the film, these relationships overlap, and the big boisterous Lindsay family is pared down to just one brother and sister. I was a little sad about this, because the chapters with the Lindsays are some of my favourite parts of the book. But the section of the film where Anna's family history is explained is elegantly done, in a way that film can handle so subtly and neatly, where a book's explanations are a little clunky and awkward.

Overall, I think it's a success, if not a perfect one.

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