By: V. Penna
Earwig and the Witch, from Studio Ghibli, based on a book of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, was released on October 18th, 2020. It was the first Studio Ghibli film to be fully 3D-animated. Its director was Gorō Miyazaki, he said he was very confident about his film. But was it really good?
The book (which the film was based on) has many positive reviews. The majority of them point out that Earwig deals with a bad situation by getting the better out of it. A review in Common Sense Media about this book says: ‘When Earwig's position in life changes from good (living in an orphanage where everyone does what she wants) to bad (being adopted by a witch and a demon and having to do whatever they tell her to do), she doesn't complain. Instead, she looks at her new situation as a challenge, and she likes challenges. The book is supposedly good, but what are the critics in relation to the movie?
The film talks about the story of an orphan who suffers from some mental disabilities and doesn’t want to be adopted, causing much trouble, and burdening her friend ‘Pudding’ with them. But one day, her period of glory ends when she gets adopted by a strange woman and her strange husband. Turns out, they are a witch and a devil! How will Earwig deal with the situation when the witch obligates her to do tons of disgusting chores and not disturb her devil husband?
Earwig in the film doesn’t have a character development. Neither does the film have a development. All the things that happen are supposed to connect to each other clarifying its backstory and its purpose, but it fails to do so. It seems like jigsaw pieces in a table, that don’t form a complete image. Why? Because it wastes time in scenes such as Erica’s obnoxious chores and then doesn’t have time to show her development with her later-called family. By its lack of time to show development, Erica seems spoiled and manipulative, so it fails to show Erica’s full charm and bravery as a powerful and insightful character grows. This was one of the main reasons this film is considered unsatisfactory.
Studio Ghibli is mainly known for bringing the best out of simple things we usually don’t notice in our lives. Ponyo, and example, is enthusiastic about eating lamen, and it becomes a magical moment for a very simple thing. But Earwig and the Witch doesn’t show that magic. A few suggestions which could turn this good film into a great one is: If Erica turned her chores into fun games, or if she won over her adoptive parents by using her charms.
Earwig and the Witch had much potential that some may argue wasn’t achieved. Time, in this movie, was not by its side, and it lacked the ability to develop the characters and the plot further. As a Studio Ghibli fan from my heart, I really wish to have seen more out of this movie. The movie might have caused people to perceive the book in a bad way, turning away possible new audiences as well. However, because of the critics maybe one day the movie will be re-done, and other opinions will formulate. But until then there are plenty of amazing Halloween-related movies to watch.