Welcome to The Sixth Station
Hey all! Welcome to my movie blog. Often, when the spirit compels me, I’ll sit down and write an essay about a movie I particularly love, or an aspect of movies that intrigues me, or something else entirely. I love movies, and I love writing about them. Here’s an outlet for both.
I feel I should explain the title. The Sixth Station is the name of a piece composer Joe Hisaishi wrote for Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant “Spirited Away”. It plays over one of the film’s most memorable scenes, when the protagonist, Chihiro, takes a very important train ride with some very unusual fellow passengers.
Unfortunately, the clip isn’t available online, but the music is:
The scene is arguably Miyazaki’s and Hisaishi’s finest moment. Anyone who’s seen the movie immediately remembers it, despite its seeming lack of importance to the story. In a review of the great “Grave of the Fireflies” (by Isao Takahata, who, along with Miyazaki, co-founded Studio Ghibli, which produced both films), Ebert refers to what he calls “pillow shots”, or seemingly extraneous shots that allow scenes to breathe between plot developments. They help make the world of the film come alive.
The train scene is as good an example of a “pillow scene” (to coin a new phrase, I suppose) as I can imagine. It takes place at a pivotal juncture in the story, and allows the audience a chance to breathe, to meditate even. The music is perfectly suited for this purpose. Hisaishi can compose a stirring, heartstring-tugging string section with the best of them, as evidenced by other pieces in this film:
But “The Sixth Station” doesn’t follow a predictable path of rises and falls. It lingers, pulses, dissipates, returns. It’d seem erratic and unsettling (kind of like Trent Reznor’s score for “The Social Network”) if it weren’t somehow so peaceful. It’s the best piece of music from one of the best modern film composers, and it helped Miyazaki create one of his best scenes.