Fantasy has not changed. Nor will it in the years ahead. Fantasy will always have the same ingredients, only with slight variations.
Let us go back in time to the sixteenth century and venture into the fascinating world of Shakespeare, through his play – ‘The Tempest’. Now coming back to the present world, we shall take a dip into the waters of animation through the movie – ‘Spirited Away’.
I will not be unfolding the story line of the two, however, I will be telling you how though the ages the core of fantasy has remained constant, and only the surface has changed.
‘Spirited Away’ is set in an abandoned amusement park, while ‘The Tempest’ is set on a deserted island. I believe you would be thinking of me as a clone of the mad-hatter; though if you read on you will discover how much a sixteenth centaury play has in common with a 21st century animated movie.
As in all fantasy stories, in these stories too, the concept of good and evil is prevalent. An important aspect of these stories is that they show how one person can have both good and evil in them, just like two side of a coin. In ‘Spirited Away’ Yubaba, the bath house witch is shown as evil and unhearted. In fact, she is quite the contrary. She is fair when dealing with money, to add to that she never cheats. As callous as people might call her, she has a soft corner for her baby, Boh. In ‘The Tempest’, Prospero is shown a wicked man seeking vengeance from his brother along with the duke of Millan. He captures his enemies and makes them pay for their sins. However, his motivation to do so was quite genuine and common to all good fathers. He wanted his daughter to have a secure future. To add to his motive, he was seeking revenge; though he is kind at heart. Most of the times circumstances drive people to be the evil they have become. So you see how one can be gentle and callous at the same time.
Hunger for power is predominant in both the delightful exhibits of fantasy. For instance in ‘Spirited Away’ Haiku wants to take over Yobaba’s bath house. In the same way in ‘The Tempest’, Antonio wanted to usurp the throne of Millan from his brother-Prospero. Antonio proved successful in his quest and banished Prospero and his daughter. In the same way, Prospero conquered a strange and lonely island; which was in fact in the possession of Caliban. Caliban became Prospero’s slave. This shows how greed for power is a prominent characteristic in the characters. It also shows the reality of human nature. What we create is a reflection of who we are.
The concept of transformation has been gracing us with its presence in almost everything associated with fantasy. In ‘The Tempest’, Ariel- a spirit as delicate as the early morning sun can be a vicious, terrifying beast if needed to. As for ‘Spirited Away’, Haiku – the spirit of the Kaiaki River can transform into a dragon. Yobaba adorns the form of an enormous bird, which resembles a hawk.
The element of magic has been an ever present visitor in the mystifying world of fantasy. Prospero practices magic on the secluded island to protect and destroy. Yobaba practices magic in the bathhouse as well.
Had you ever thought that a 16th century play and a 21st century animated movies, who seem to be poles apart, could be so similar?