This is a very straightforward movie, much like other films written by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s so gentle, too. I really got into the point of view we are given from the perspective of the little Borrowers. It’s interesting seeing all the little things they have around their home that they had borrowed from us, and the interesting ways they use them. I hope you and your family enjoy this film as much as my family did.

Arrietty is a little girl, really really little. She’s the 14 year old daughter in a family of “Borrowers”, 4” tall people who live in the secret parts of our homes. As far as her family knows, they may be the last of their kind still living. But they have determination to keep living. Her father intends to train her in the ways of borrowing, but her mother is afraid she will get hurt or killed and doesn’t feel comfortable with her going out. Her father is wise and knows that if she doesn’t learn to survive by borrowing then she won’t be able to take care of herself when her parents aren’t around anymore.

A reoccurring theme in the film is the fact that some things are beyond our control. Even in the midst of these things, we must persist in doing our best and living out our lives. Sometimes that means that we’ll have to make hard decisions and do things that we aren’t comfortable with. We also must try be prepared for what may be coming our way.

On her first borrowing mission, Arrietty is spotted by Shawn, a human boy who is visiting with his aunt so that he can rest before having heart surgery that may or may not save his life. Shawn takes an interest in the little people and tries to help them to show he’s friendly. In his room is a beautiful doll-house that we learn was made by his grandfather to be a home for Borrowers, but they never came to live in it. Arrietty’s papa tells her that doll houses are made for toys, Borrowers are not toys, and they cannot accept things like that because it is not their way of life.

Speaking of things that are beyond our control, here we see Shawn, sick with an illness he had no say in. I’m reminded of the time that Jesus’ disciples ask him why a man was blind, “was it his sin, or his parents that caused this?” And Jesus responded that it was not the man’s, nor his parent’s sins that caused the blindness, it was given to him so that God would be glorified in his healing! He also brought up a recent disaster that had happened in Jerusalem, a tower had fallen and killed 18 people. Jesus asks, “Do you think those 18 were worse sinners than everyone else in Jerusalem?” The implied answer is of course, no. Shawn’s illness is like this because he didn’t do anything wrong to have a bad heart, but if his heart were never bad, he’d have never met Arrietty.

As for the doll house and the items in it; Pod (Arrietty’s dad) didn’t reject it out of pride. He knew it was not the way of life for Borrowers to live in a house made for them by humans, or to accept blocks of sugar as gifts from humans. If they did, they would lose their identity as Borrowers. They would be giving up their way of life and over time would become merely toys for humans to play with. Essentially, we can relate this to the Christian who chooses not to live out life as dictated by the World, but instead follows the Word of God, even when it would be easier to live in the ways of the World. If we did, eventually we’d no longer behave like Christians.

The maid, Hara, discovers the little family and capture’s Arrietty’s mom in a jar. With the help of Shawn, Arrietty is able to save her mom and cover up their existence as well. The Borrower family moves out to a new home, but Arrietty is given a chance to say goodbye to Shawn. She gives him her hairclip to remember her by. Shawn tells her that seeing the determination of Arrietty’s family has given him the strength of heart he needs. We learn that he makes it through his surgery and remains inspired by Arrietty the rest of his life.

Again, difficult decisions are made. The Borrower family gives up their home and moves on to find a new home. Seeing the little family living out their principles, even in challenging circumstances, gave Shawn the strength of heart to face his surgery with courage. When we look at the Apostle Paul, we see an example of the Christian who is able to stick to his principles, even in the face of challenging circumstances. He went to Jerusalem knowing that he’d be arrested and put on trial, probably to be put to death, and he was willing to go for the sake of the Gospel.

In Arrietty’s hairclip gift we see symbolism being used to remember someone. The Israelites were often commanded to use stones to remember when God had rescued them. And Christ gave us the Lord’s Supper Communion ceremony so that we will remember Him until his return.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In the movie, Shawn is very sick. Something is wrong with his heart. It wasn’t his fault he was sick, it just happened. Sometimes bad things happen. A long time ago, people thought that bad stuff only happens to bad people. Jesus said that isn’t true. In fact, sometimes bad things happen so that good things will come of it. If Shawn were never sick, he would not have met Arrietty. Do you think Shawn would prefer to never be sick, even if it meant never meeting her? Or would he be willing to get sick so he could know her? Sometimes God allows bad things to happen so that a good thing will come of it. Next time something bad happens, try to find a good thing that happens as a result. (John 9:1-3)
  2. Shawn’s Grandpa made a lovely house for the Borrowers to live in It had everything wonderful in it, but Arrietty’s dad said they could not live there or use these nice things. If they lived there, they would be giving up their way of life. They would stop being “Borrowers” and begin to be treated like toys. Have your parents ever told you you couldn’t have something you really really wanted? Have you ever felt like you were missing out because you have a Christian family?
  3. Many people had to make very difficult decisions in the movie. Arrietty’s mama had to let her go out so she could learn to borrow, because if she didn’t learn to borrow she would have trouble surviving when she is grown. Arrietty didn’t want to move because she liked her house and her new friend, Shawn, but she had to move for the safety of her family. Have you ever had to do something even though you didn’t want to or you were scared, but it was the right thing to do? In the Bible, the Apostle Paul was told that if he went to Jerusalem he would be arrested, but he knew that he had to go. He was arrested, but because of being arrested, he was able to share the Good News of Jesus with many many influential people. If he had never gone then the whole world may be worse off. Let’s pray that God will give us the strength to do the right thing, even when we are scared or just don’t want to do it. (Acts 21 & 22)
  4. Arrietty gave Shawn her hairclip to remember her by. Jesus gave us something to remember Him by as well. He gave us the Lord’s Supper, which we do to remember Him until he returns.  Shawn never saw Arrietty again, but we will see Jesus again, One Day. (1 Corinthians 11:17-26)