Spirited Away Movie And References to World's Mythologies - a Conversation with the Kids
This week we watched the movie Spirited Away with the kids, and as usual, in the end, we make comments about the possible life lessons that can be extracted from it. But this time was different. The kids started to blow profound observations during the movie, making comparisons with a variety of Mythologies. Below I will share some examples.
As soon as Chihiro meets Kamaji, the spider-like spirit that runs the boiler room, my daughter immediately said, "He is like Ananse, the spider.". Then I asked her why she thinks this way, and she replied, "well, he looks like a spider, and he seems to control a big machine, just like Ananse that controls the Big Book of Stories.". How amazing is it?! She could make a connection between a Japanese movie character and an African myth!
My son, on the other hand, made a connection with Greek Mythology. When Haku told Chihiro not to look back until reaching the other side of the tunnel, my son looked at me and said, "just like Hades said to Orpheus when he tried to save his girlfriend.". I was speechless that he could remember the story of Orpheus and Eurydice!
Beyond the fact that it is super cool watching two kids, 10 and 11 years old, showing off their rich cultural repertoire, this knowledge has the potential to guide them through life into adulthood. The ability to make connections of distinct symbols, find patterns of behavior, and be aware of metaphorical speech are valuable tools for human development.
If you have children in your life, I strongly suggest you read a large variety of folktales, including stories from all continents. Each population uses the symbols available in their environment to evoke and embody the most primitive human impulses... the signs might look different. Still, they are all talking about the same subject. We can develop empathy and a sense of belonging to the World's Community by exposing our children to as many different cultures as possible.