I recently watched this movie with a good friend. Ads for it were popping up all over my Google searches, so I put it in my mind to watch it eventually. A couple days later, my friend invited me over and we got to watch it, thank goodness for Netflix! I’ll admit, I did cry at the end. It is perhaps one of my favorite Ghibli movies because the story was so beautiful and moving. It brought me to the core of myself, and reminded me of my current struggle with the pain of loneliness vs. the redemption of solitude.
My fist impressions of the movie were from the poster. The two girls from different worlds holding hands looked like that innocent friendship from everyone’s childhood. The setting behind the girls is light and dreamy, like the perfect summer your young mind exaggerated when turning it into memories. Marnie’s dress flows behind her and around Anna’s legs almost like she’s symbolically protecting her. It was small details like that that spread out throughout the whole movie, building up over time creating the theme.
I immediately identified with the main character. Anna, is a twelve year old girl who struggles with asthma, loneliness, and identity. Her character is designed to immediately pull the audience into identifying or empathizing with her. Her demeanor is the hook the movie needed since it was a slower pace plot. The message goes over many young children’s heads, since Marnie’s existence is questionable, but Anna stands as a character for young girls to rally with.
Anna’s suffering was portrayed so strongly, Even thought it’s stated that how Anna is so stoic and emotionless, her pain and suffering at the beginning of the movie is portrayed so loudly. The audience can see this side of her, but the character’s can’t seam to. The way she’s treated as a girl with no feelings only deepens her sorrow.
The major theme of this movie is loneliness. Anna isolated herself so much that she has very difficult time being nice. She isn’t a mean person, she is just so shy, that she hasn’t any practice being kind. She struggled not feeling truly loved by her foster parents, and feeling angry at her real parents for dying even thought she knows those feeling are unfair. Her journey over the summer at this nautical feeling town helped her to accept love and connect with her family, even if they weren’t physically there.
A message I took away from the movie was that the cure for loneliness isn’t forcing friends upon yourself, or going out of your way to try and socialize. From personal experience, taking the time you have alone and really trying to understand your emotions helps you productively change your attitude so you can be in a place ready for friendship. Sometimes, when we’re in the pit of despair, like Anna, we need someone to come along and show us grace and kindness because there isn’t any way we can show that to ourselves. Marnie loved Anna even before she really knew her as a person. Marnie presented Anna with friendship and even more importantly, hope, that the future was going to be better. I’ve read the verse Jeremiah 29:11 (my favorite verse) over and over again. I know the words inside out. But recently, I read it and took away something new. God gives us “a hope and a future.” God doesn’t just know what will happen to us and let it happen, he plants hope inside his children so the can be excited for their future. Marnie, teaches Anna hope so she can slowly change her lonely attitude preparing herself to have friends and accept her family.
There won’t always be a person like Marnie who’s there for us when we don’t deserve it. Many people go along their lives always lonely and it breaks my heart. During prayer groups at school we talked about how important fellowship is in the church. I agreed with these principles, but it was hard for me to accept the specific form friendship they were offering me. I wasn’t ready to use that group to vent all my secrets, but I can still use that group to pray for other as they pray for me and that’s emotionally productive for me. I practice fellowship, but I don’t see any of those girls as my bffs forever, and I don’t have to. Anna was forced to attend a town wide party before she was comfortable socializing. We don’t have any reason to harm ourselves like that if we’re not ready. I find that it’s worse to push yourself then the simply not try when dealing with loneliness. I can allow myself to feel comfortable in my prayer group because I’ve put up social boundaries. Anna hadn’t learned to limit herself yet, and the situation got out of hand. She ended up only hurting herself more.
Anna really dislikes herself. She believes that she’s ugly and stupid. This is something that I feel every girl (and probably guys too) goes through at this age. It’s hard enough feeling lost and unloved. Anna’s wish was to be normal. However normal is a paradox in itself. Why is it that humans either don’t like themselves or love themselves too much? Finding the equilibrium in our emotions takes quite the practice. And when it simply becomes too difficult to try and understand the complexity of ourselves, it’s alright. God is the only person who knows me better then I know myself. He acts as a Marnie towards me because he teaches me hope and shows my grace. He’s patient when I’m slow to learn. When I’m not strong enough to be social, he tells me it’s alright. I’ve found the verse Psalm 46:10 “Be Still and know that I am God” to be extraordinarily comforting, because I’m in a place in my life where I just need to be still. Anna also needed to be still but she had a hard time feeling justified wanting it. She hadn’t the strength yet to conquer her inner turmoil and that made her feel guilty. I’m learning to be content with where I am like Anna. Being content however, is very difficult when you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Often, I want to listen to the lies that Anna listen too. I often feel like I’m stupid because school is hard. Sinful human nature wants trump the truth. We want to beat ourselves down. It takes time and peace to learn to distinguish the lies from the truth. That’s why I find being alone, is an incredibly important step to conquering loneliness.