My Neighbor Totoro (1988)  —  PICK

Schindler’s List (1993) —  PICK


Two of the greatest films ever made celebrate anniversaries with new Blu-ray editions: a gentle, magical reverie of childhood and a grim historical drama of one of the most horrific events in history.

How can I describe the inexplicable power of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, now 30 years old? It is like how happy childhood memories feel. Two sisters arrive with their father in a new house in the countryside and, occasional encounters with magical beings aside, not much happens.

Parents should note that Miyazaki draws inspiration from Japanese animism in expressing his reverence for nature. What matters most, though, is the slow rhythms of rural life, the pleasures of a happy family, and the practical wisdom of life going on despite adversity.

Released 25 years ago, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List — a 1995 Vatican film list honoree — has only grown in power and relevance.

Foregrounding Liam Neeson’s conflicted Oskar Schindler, a Nazi entrepreneur-turned-resister who saves hundreds of Jewish lives, Spielberg gives equal weight to documentary-like depictions of Jewish suffering in the background. The film challenges us to think: What would I do in such circumstances?

 

Caveat Spectator: My Neighbor Totoro: Somewhat stressful family themes; brief sub-Christian spiritual elements. Fine family viewing. Schindler’s List: Graphic Holocaust-era violence and menace; brief sexuality with partial nudity; nonsexual nudity; some harsh language. Mature viewing.