I would just like to point out that the beginning and end of Spirited Away creep me out in the most delicious way possible. I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales, and not just the Grimm and Anderson stuff, almost all my life. Like the honestly faerie court stories.
Themes you see in those reflect strongly in this movie, and comparing them side by side just makes it that much more stark.
Often times you hear that if you get sucked into the fairy realm, you shouldn’t eat their food. It gives them power over you. More often than not, heroes finally escape the fairy realm after what they perceive to be a very short time (a night or a week)…
…only to find that seasons or years have passed.
‘Hey, it’s all dusty in here. Is this someone’s idea of a joke?’
CRAPPING SHIT I WHY HAVE I NEVER NOTICED THIS
This always freaked me out a little as a kid. Like the OP, I couldn’t help but wonder how long REALLY passed. I always pretended it was something like a week but… Judging by that moss, I can’t say for sure.
A week? Try much MUCH /MUCH/ longer. The plants are a good indicator but a better one is the statue. We’re seeing it from the same angle in each shot. Look in the first one before she enters, it’s not NEW but you can tell what it is.
Now look at the second frame. It’s so eroded it’s just a dull, flat stone.
That thing is solid stone, that must have taken up to, if not more than, a DECADE to wear down that much.
Not to mention that there are new trees next to the car. Just remember how long it actually takes for trees to grow real quick.
Evidence is suggesting they were in there for maybe around 20-30 years.
I’d personally put it more at 100 years myself, and that is really terrifying.
I grew up in a forest, and I’ve been to a lot of cemeteries. Now granted, we don’t know what kind of stone that is, or what kind of trees those are, but why carve a statue out of stone that will degrade so quickly? Also, save for quick-growing pines, all the trees out in the forest barely grew any larger over my 28 years of life, and none of the stones around our property were worn any noticeably smoother by the elements. There were trees planted when I was a child that are now only big enough around that just my middle finger and thumb meet when I grasp their trunks. But again, I’ve watched maple trees absolutely shoot up into magnificent trees over my lifetime. It’s really hard to tell with trees.
Headstones are a good indicator of how quickly stone wears down since they’re generally dated. In my family cemetery, the relatively soft limestone headstones from 1860-1900 are incredibly difficult to read, but you can -still- make out the dates so even after 100+ years they’re still not worn smooth, and limestone’s pretty quick to degrade. We also have a lot of rain and air moisture where I live, which breaks them down faster. I’ve seen ones made of granite from the 1600’s that can still be read.
So it could just be an oversight and they didn’t intend to make it look like that much time had passed, but when I see that smooth statue, it horrifies me.
In my opinion I don’t think much more than a few months have passed since Chihiro and family entered the spirit realm and returned. Here’s why I think so.
- If it had been more than a year there should be a layer of decaying leaves from the previous fall covering the outside and inside of the car.
- The entry ways are completely different. It is possible that is was covered in plaster.
- There’s no traditional top over the overgrown wall or evidence of it ever being there.
- Again with the car, if it had been more than a few years at rest the air would have most likely escaped from the tires making it hard to drive.
- There is also no evidence of rust on the car from prolonged exposure.
What I think happened was that the entry way was bewitched. A person is more likely to go into a place that looks familiar right? That would give Chihiro’s Father a reason to want to go explore inside, thus taking the family along. (Plus don’t forget that Chihiro noticed the wind being pulled into the tunnel while they went inside.)
So when Chihiro broke the spell and the gateway between the realms was closed; the spell over the entryway also broke, sending it back to its original state. That would explain why the woods, stone and entryway had changed so much while the car was relatively untouched besides some leaves and dust. (You could also compare this with My Neighbor Totoro when May first goes to see Totoro and is then found somewhere different when she awakens)
But all in all, some strange stuff went down while they were in the spirit realm.