Ideology Behind Spirited Away Essay

1180 words - 5 pages

Ideology is attitudes, beliefs, perceptions that commonly shared by the people in society. It is mostly unconscious and it appears in everyday human’s daily lives. Cinema is one of the medium that people can be exposed. Therefore the ideology in film takes a powerful role that shapes aspects of people’s beliefs. When it comes to a film, people who watch the film receive a message from it whether that message is explicit or not. Ideology can be most receptive and powerful when it is exposed to the audience when they are enjoying the film and are unaware of it (Edgar-Hunt, Marland and Rawle 96). In Spirited Away, the movie sends out many aspects of ideology in Japanese society. This essay is going to be focusing on two particular aspects which are Shinto beliefs and human versus nature.
In Asian culture, people usually give priority to the religion. Shinto was the state religion of Japan in the past. Shinto means Kami Way in Japanese. Kami is term to describe sacred spirits, or something that possesses superior power (Earheart 6). Japanese people believe that there are spirits in everything. All beings can be called Kami such as river, woods, or even human beings (Ono and Woodard 6). Japan has been called a land of Kami. They regard Kami as an object of worship in Shinto religion. Throughout the film, it can be seen that many elements of Shinto aspect is subtly embed. Just the name of this movie “Spirited Away” tells a lot about the beliefs of Japanese toward the supernatural spirits. The first scene where Chihiro’s parents drive on the road, on the way Chihiro sees an old miniature house and she asks them what it is. Chihiro’s parents explain that it is a shrine for spirits. This shows that religion still plays a big part in people’s lives from the past to present time. There are many Kami shown in the movie such as the god of river, the spirits in the bathhouse and Haku (Chihiro’s guardian). One special scene in the movie that signifies the reference from Shinto is the bathhouse scene. The bathhouse in the movie is the place where all the spirits (Kami) come to clean themselves. In Shinto, Purification (Harai) is one of the four important elements of worship. Purification is the practice where a worshipper has to clean out all the pollution and evilness out of oneself. In this practice, a person has to immerse him or herself into salt water (Ono and Woodard 52), similar to the scene where the stink god cleanses himself using the ‘special herb’ in the bathhouse. After the purification he reveals himself as a river god and becomes pure again.
Shinto is also known as the ritual that creates the unity between Kami, human and of course Nature (Delattre, Kasprowicz and Rujivacharakul). Another important aspect that the movie focuses on is the Nature theme. Japanese culture view nature as “a friend of man”(Kellert 299). Hence Japanese people believe that men and nature are in harmony and men should love and respect the nature. One of the most...

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