on December 31, 2002
The artwork was excellent.
Unfortunately, on the DVD that I purchased, the English voice tracks were recorded at a lower volume than the background music.
Some of the concepts (prostitution, blind hatred, mutilation, leprosy) presented in the movie are somewhat mature and probably not intended for young children. Besides that, the slow pace of the movie would bore young children.
I guess some potential viewers should be warned that the movie might be perceived as chronically suggesting that most humans intend to use technology to destroy nature. This suggestion may upset some viewers, because its argument is severely under developed. However, I doubt that the movie was intended as a political statement. When such a message is set against the story's background of blind hatred, malicious animals, and humans' need for survival, the under developed propaganda becomes ineffective and probably only has a polarizing effect.
I believe the real story is about coping with sadness. Initially, an outcast group of prostitutes and cripples created a town in the woods to mine iron, so that they may earn a living in an otherwise merciless world. A struggle between the boar clan and the outcast humans occurs. The boar clan, one of nature's animal tribes, becomes so overwhelmed with grief that they strike out in blind hatred towards all humans (even the ones who did not appear to do anything wrong). Their anger causes them to become both evil and unwise, which eventually gets them all killed. Meanwhile, some of the humans experience grief over the loss of their loved ones. Other wealthier humans see an opportunity to exploit the sad humans and quickly encourage the sad humans to hunt down the god of nature. This weakens the defenses of the sad humans fortress and potentially brings back the magical god's head too. In the end, the story vaguely hints that only hope and communication can overcome sadness, where as anger and hatred simply causes a person to become blind and possibly evil. Overall, the slow pace and audio problems made this movie disappointing.
on January 23, 2002
I'm sure some people will accuse me of being a purist. OK, I can live with that. BUT I don't think you have to be a purist to feel the way I do about this film. This film may have been the biggest seller of all time in Japan, but the English language version wasn't, isn't and will never be. Why? Because even if the translation was perfect, which it wasn't, there are WAY to many concepts inherent in the story that cannot be understood without extensive knowledge of Japanese history.
Take the ending for example. I'm sure I'm not the only person who felt like the ending fell a bit flat. That's because, while I have studied Japanese history, I don't have the true FEELING of what it means to be a samurai, to follow the samurai way (bushido). I don't truly comprehend the honor system, as most Japanese people do. And while I do have some real experience with Japanese romantic relationships, I (and most westerners) don't share their belief in unrecoited, and even unspoken, love.
On top of that, I strongly disagree with the casting choices made for many of the voices. Many of them were, in my opinion, simply monotonous, possibly because, I think, the voice actors were chosen because of the popularity of their names, rather than their actual abilities to do voice work, which is definitely different from acting in front of a camera. (Don't get me wrong, I love Gillian Anderson on camera.) And further on that subject, it just didn't fit to have have WESTERN American accents (and I am American) coming from traditional Japanese mouths, and it was even more inappropriate to have vastly different accents coming from characters living in one of the most homogeneous societies in the world. Once again, casting for the sake of popular names.
NOBODY can fault Hayao Miyazaki for his work. The animation was fantastic, the story epic, and the music perfect. But after seeing (unfortunately proceeded by buying) this film, I MUCH prefer watching it in the original Japanese version, even though I can't follow the dialogue. I'll keep it, but only because it helps complete my Miyazaki collection.
on October 30, 2001
Surely most people are fans of Miyazaki's works because of Nausicaa, Laputa, Kiki, Totoro. That's because even though those films appear "less ambitious" than Mononoke Hime they moved you emotionally, spiritually. Unfortunately that's missing from Mononoke. I can't buy into the argument that since there is no side you cheer for that this is more realistic=great. That doesn't make it great. And it's certainly not what made Miyazaki's previous works so enjoyable. Maybe I expected too much but even that put aside I didn't experience the same emotional charge and sense of wonder as I did when watching Laputa or Nausicaa.
Even the ending was disappointing. There was no real resolution to the conflict. We didn't really learn much about anybody except how much Rage can cloud their judgements. The story line wasn't very memorable. I can't even remember the soundtrack. (astonishing considering Jo's past accomplishments in previous works).
It's unfortunate since this was Miyazaki's first real big exposure to the US audience. The fact that it only grossed a bit over $2 Million in the US has endangered future realeases of his films by Disney. Write them and tell them that would be a very big mistake ...
on October 26, 2001
i've watched this more times than i think i should of, just because of the number of people who seem to love it, but i still hate this movie. maybe its because i've always hated anime. i honestly think there's no real message besides the whole environment thing (gee and we havnt heard that before huh). the rest of the "messages" just seem to be some sort of postmodernistic bs. i've had this theory about anime for a long time....they just whip up some confusing plot, and pretend it means something. the dialoge is what killed it for me mainly....you can tell it looses some effect in the translation. it'd be nice if they just rewrote the thing over in english. theres no real art in the words when they're spoke in english....it just sounds like...well japanese words translated into english. i'd would of liked to see this film free of some of the typical anime "fetishes", like that weird tentical thing they all seem to have. but its still my firm belief that anime is for simpletons who like to beleive that they can think. they just look at an asortment of weird images and pretend like they mean something. get yourself some kurasowa if you want a film that actually says something, and in an artfull way.
on September 21, 2001
Given all the hype surrounding Princess M., I expected to like this film a good deal more than I did. I tried to like it. Truly. Unfortunately, the producers make it extremely difficult to do so, since their primary conceit seems to have been: "let's confuse our audience as much as we can." The primary way they accomplish this is by having every character vacillate back and forth from protagonist to antagonist every other scene. The wolves are good guys, no they're threatening to kill the hero, oh wait, they're trying to save the forest, nope, they're just small-minded bigots, etc. etc. Worse than the mythic figures were the humans: ah, the people of IronTown are attacked by wolves, goodie! Oh wait, they're destroying the environment, I hate those guys! But wait, they're not as bad as these soldiers, so we sympathize again, only now they're shooting at the Princess of the forest, darn they're bad, but wait...
And so on and so on. I recognize the desire to present complex characterizations and avoid the black-and-white mentality of so much fantasy work, but this quickly devolved into simple inconsistency. Eventually I just gave up and decided to hate everybody in the film, after which it became kind of bitter fun to watch them spill one another's blood across the screen (which they do in simply astonishing volumes).
As for the environmental sub-text of the movie, it was not only severely undercut by all the heavy-handed side-switching mentioned above, but almost entirely buried in the morass of annoying mythological background which plagued the movie. In the last fifteen minutes, it turns out that this mythological stuff has actually been the whole crux of the movie (surprise), providing the excuse for a boatload of visual effects but leaving the central plot, as it has been heretofore presented, in the dust.
Final words: confusing, inconsistent, turgid mythology punctuated by inadequately explained violence. Go read Harry Potter instead.
on August 18, 2001
The plot of this movie is incoherent. The characters are not particularly likeable nor do they inspire the viewer's care, sympathy, or interest. The movie's point is that we are poisoning the earth with our hate, pollution, corruption, greed, deceit, and pride.
The animation is good but very unoriginal. How many times have I seen worm like monsters invading human bodies in Japanese animation? It seems like Japanese animation MUST have one of those scenes.
It seems the movie creator is trying to spread its shinto/shaministic religious beliefs, which is one of the reason why the movie is so incoherent to the western mind.
on June 11, 2001
I was rather disappointed with this film! I think the story was lacking. The art work was spectacular, and I loved the spirits in the forest. But it seems that the villian learns their lesson a bit too late. Rather disappointing. And the story is a bit slow too. There are no dramatic changes of the characters in the story, except, of course for the forest spirit.
on April 18, 2001
I have not seen (heard) the Japanese version, not that I would understand it, but I'm sure it must be better than the english version. I agree with those who consider some of the voice acting to be out of place. The accents do sound strange and often the characters shout their lines which seems very contrived, awkward and unnecessary. The producers should have eschewed big name movie and television stars in favor of genuine professional voice actors. But often, the english version of the script is at fault. Many of the character's lines are downright corny. Indeed, the entire movie is excessively melodramatic, causing me to almost cringe. For instance, the scene where wolf girl has to chew the food for the hero is really too much. Like I said, the Japanese version is probably much better but I suspect the plot is still too convoluted. I think they tried to do too much with the story to its overall detriment. Overall I found the film disappointing and would not recommend it.
on March 26, 2001
I was intrigued by the effusive praise that so many ... heaped upon this movie, and I thought to myself "Wow, this sounds incredible - I'd better check this out."
However, this film ...
It's way, way too overlong. It comes in at about 2 hrs 20 mins, yet so much of the movie is painfully repetitious that this could easily have been trimmed to 80 mins. The American voice-overs are AWFUL. Minnie Driver is passable, but every other actor makes it sound like a school play. They're hammier than a side of pig. I can't believe anime has evolved so little since "Akira".
on March 10, 2001
When I first heard about this movie I was very interested in seeing it. Namely because everyone was telling me how epic it was. Well I consider myself a huge anime fan so I wanted to check it out. What I found was however was a movie riddled with enladen old messages like "women's rights" and "peace making skills". This DVD might have been made in Japan, but its messages are fully American-which makes it absolutely boring.