Before it ever arrived in the U.S., this epic, animated 1997 fantasy had already made history as the top-grossing domestic feature ever released in Japan, where its combination of mythic themes, mystical forces, and ravishing visuals tapped deeply into cultural identity and contemporary, ecological anxieties. For international animation andanimefans,Princess Mononokerepresents an auspicious next step for its revered creator, Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro,Kiki's Delivery Service), an acknowledgedanimepioneer, whose painterly style, vivid character design, and stylized approach to storytelling take ambitious, evolutionary steps here.Set in medieval Japan, Miyazaki's original story envisions a struggle between nature and man. The march of technology, embodied in the dark iron forges of the ambitious Tatara clan, threatens the natural forces explicit in the benevolent Great God of the Forest and the wide-eyed, spectral spirits he protects. When Ashitaka, a young warrior from a remote, and endangered, village clan, kills a ravenous, boar-like monster, he discovers the beast is in fact an infectious "demon god," transformed by human anger. Ashitaka's quest to solve the beast's fatal curse brings him into the midst of human political intrigues as well as the more crucial battle between man and nature. Miyazaki's convoluted fable is clearly not the stuff of kiddie matinees, nor is the often graphic violence depicted during the battles that ensue. If some younger viewers (or less attentive older ones) will wish for a diagram to sort out the players, Miyazaki's atmospheric world and its lush visual design are reasons enough to watch. For the English-language version, Miramax assembled an impressive vocal cast including Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup (as Ashitaka), Claire Danes (as San), Minnie Driver (as Lady Eboshi), Billy Bob Thornton, and Jada Pinkett Smith. They bring added nuance to a very different kind of magic kingdom. Recommended for ages 12 and older. --Sam Sutherland
How do you review something so compelling, so engaging and so brilliant that to do so would make one seem like a boy with a huge crush? Roger Ebert placed the film as one of his 10 best films of all time at number six in 1999. Well, I am going to give a try anyway since I owe “Princess Mononoke” (1997) that much. This film is a period epic fantasy animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, it took the man 15 years to fully develop the story and to reveal the complexities of … more
One of the greatest achievements of Studio Ghibli and a work of high art. It is an epic struggle between man and nature and how hatred and pride can blind us to the truth. A total grand display of fantastic animation and careful storytelling. A Must-see!
The artwork of this film is astonishing. Set primarily in the forests of ancient Japan, the scenery is lush with life, vivid with depth and detail. The scenery is in some cases so gorgeous it will take your breath away. But the story, too, stands out from the crowd. Written by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and adapted into English by writer Neil Gaiman, Princess Mononoke is the story Ferngully wanted to be. It tells of a great clash between humans and nature, with the animal gods and forest spirits … more