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Princess Mononoke / Princesse Mononoké (Bilingual)
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This epic, animated 1997 fantasy has 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, ec
This epic, animated 1997 fantasy has 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 and anime fans, Princess Mononoke represents an auspicious next step for its revered creator, Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service), an acknowledged anime pioneer, 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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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"Princess Mononoke" is absolutely an animated epic. I really think that "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" (with their epic journeys, warring factions and unknown lands) had a strong influence on this film, and they give you a good idea of the general plot and feel. Then, throw in samurais and a big helping of Japanese myth (which really isn't any more objectionable to western religion than our own Mother Earth myth, if this is a concern for you). Beyond any feel or ingredients list, though, is an awesomely complex and creative storyline, the like of which I've never seen before in an animated film. I belive that this film is so good that it could easily stand being done in live action and could be huge on the scale of a LoTR movie (no joke). Princess Mononoke just "happens" to be done in animation.
Princess Mononoke really blew me away. I've never been a fan of Japanese animation, but I'm becoming a fan of Miyazaki. The difference is in the story and the creativity. I highly recommend Princess Mononoke to everyone, but especially to the average moviegoer who needs convincing to try it out. The only folks I'd like to warn are those who have a tendency to think or say "this is weird" 20 minutes into a film and give up on it. You have to have a little bit more of an open mind than Disney would like us to have. You'll be rewarded if you closely follow the film and have that open mind.
The story lasts 133 minutes and is quite violent in places. The opening scene shows a boar possessed by a demon, which is an immediate threat to a village. Ashitaka (Billy Crudup) tackles the beast and ultimately kills it, but injures his right arm in the process. The arm is essentially possessed and the infection is expected to spread throughout his body, killing him. He’s a danger to his own people and reluctantly has to leave in search of a cure.
Like most of Miyazaki’s characters, Ashitaka is a good person. One clue to his character is the way he treats Yakul, the red elk that he rides. The two seem like partners and it’s clear that he loves the animal.
Further clues to Ashitaka’s character can be seen when he saves another village from attack and rescues two drowning men from a river. We see that his infected arm seems to have additional strength and that enemies hit by his arrows can be decapitated. As I mentioned at the outset, the film is aimed at older audiences than those targeted by Totoro. It’s bloody and violent in places and death is always a possibility.
The first magical scene takes place in a forest. The locals fear it and the tree spirits that live there, but Ashitaka has no such fears. He sees the tree spirits as happy and childlike and willingly follows their directions. They lead him and the injured men to safety. He also catches a glimpse of the Forest Spirit, which is an altogether more powerful entity and has a big role to play in the story.Read more ›
This animated film by Hayao Miyazaki is absolutely amazing. It embodies all the things you should look for in animation, and it stands as one of the greatest films - and, along with Ran (directed by Kurosawa), my favorite film from Japan. First, let me say that the story was terrific, using developed characters and tackling real-world problems of environmentalism and technology tastefully and without an abundance of feel-good Sierra-club nonsense a la Captain Planet and Ferngully. It explores humanity's relationship with nature, the struggle for human survival, and the difficulties of human advancement. While there is a large degree of sentimentalism (Randians beware) the story should appeal to a wide range of audiences.
The most amazing thing about the movie is the art and art direction, all masterfully done. The entire movie is a feast for the eyes, both characters and backgrounds are drawn with fascinating detail and rich, crisp color. The artistic and directorial talent deserves the utmost respect. You'll have to see the movie to believe how good it is.
The sound is well done, but for those of you wanting to utilize your overly expensive surround sound systems, you'll find yourself missing out (sorry). The sounds are crisp, though, and complement the visual experience beautifully.Read more ›
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