July 14, 2010

Indians in My Neighbor Totoro

Indians show up in the strangest places sometimes, including this film:

My Neighbor TotoroMy Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ, Tonari no Totoro), is a 1988 Japanese anime film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film follows the two young daughters of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award for Best Film in 1988.Comment:  In one scene, the girls are cavorting outside. Satsuki puts her hand over her mouth and make the stereotypical "whoo-whoo" sound for a second. You know, because Indians are the universal signifier of wildness.

Normally I wouldn't mention something this trivial, but I was surprised to see two Native actors--Kimberly Guerrero and Zahn McClarnon--in the credits. Wikipedia says David Midthunder also was in the cast. They aren't in the IMDB listing for Disney's English-language version, so they probably had only a couple lines each.

Out of a few dozen speaking roles, how did three of them end up with Natives? Let's see...Guerrero and Midthunder were in Dreamkeeper and Hidalgo together. McClarnon and Midthunder were in Into the West together. A year or two after that, they were all doing the English version of My Neighbor Totoro. There must be some connection there.

Anyway, My Neighbor Totoro is a charming film. A nice depiction of life in the countryside, and possibly the best screen depiction of little girls ever. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

Lucille said...

Note: There are two English language dubs of "My Neighbor Totoro." One was produced by Fox, shortly after the film was made. Then, when "Spirited Away" came out (2003), Disney released their own editions of several of Hayao Miyazaki's movies. So if they're not credited for the Disney dub, it's a possiblity that they were on the original English version.