tek's rating: ¾

Mary and the Witch's Flower (PG)
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This is the first feature film from Studio Ponoc. It has a very Studio Ghibli look and feel, which makes sense, because some of the people who made this film formerly worked at Ghibli. It's based on the 1971 British children's book "The Little Broomstick", which I haven't read. It's visually stunning, with a great lead character and a really good story.

The movie begins with a young witch, whose identity isn't revealed until later in the film, who has stolen magical flower seeds for a reason that also won't be revealed until later.

Many years later, Mary Smith has recently moved to the English countryside and is living with her Great Aunt Charlotte. (Her parents are supposed to arrive sometime later.) She meets a boy named Peter, and quickly takes a dislike to him. She also meets a pair of cats that belong to Peter, named Tib and Gib. She follows the cats into the forest one day, and finds some mysterious flowers. She picks one of them and takes it home, where the gardener, Zebeedee, identifies it as "fly-by-night", also known as the witch's flower. Later she explores the forest again, and discovers an old broomstick. She accidentally bursts one of the flower's bulbs, which releases magic that Mary absorbs, and also restores the broomstick to life. It flies her and Tib to a floating island above the clouds, where is located Endor College, a school for witches and warlocks. It's run by Madame Mumblechook, who is usually just called "Madame" (voiced by Kate Winslet in the English dub). Madame believes Mary is a witch, and takes her on a tour of the school. She meets one of the teachers, a scientist named Dr. Dee. When Madame learns that Mary only has magical powers because of the fly-by-night, she sends her home, and Mary intends never to return to the school again. However, Madame kidnaps Peter, so Mary has to return to rescue him, bringing the witch's flower to exchange for his release. But things don't go as expected, because Madame and Dr. Dee have other plans.

That's all I feel like revealing of the plot, though a lot more happens, and it's all rather exciting, I think. I really liked Mary as a character, even before she gained magic. And I guess I don't know what else to say.

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