Official synopsis of Princess Mononoke
In the 14th century, the harmony that humans, animals and gods have enjoyed begins to crumble. The protagonist, young Ashitaka – infected by an animal attack, seeks a cure from the deer-like god Shishigami. In his travels, he sees humans ravaging the earth, bringing down the wrath of wolf god Moro and his human companion Princess Mononoke. Her attempts to broker peace between her and the humans brings only conflict.
When it comes to directors, everyone has a favorite. For some of you it’s Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) , others, it is the Russo Brothers (Avengers: Infinity War). For me, it’s director Hayao Miyazaki – founder of Studio Ghibli. Princess Mononoke is one of the many reasons why.
This is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever witnessed. It becomes even more impressive when you realize that Princess Mononoke is hand-drawn animation. Akin to the Disney Classics of old. Watching the beautiful landscapes, and the brilliantly executed action scenes; knowing that it’s hand-drawn makes even breathtaking and inspirational. It is also worth mentioning that the attention to details is top notch. Whether it’s the mannerism of a character to a specific spot in the environment.
The movie kicks off when Ashitaka get involved in the war between “mother nature” and the industrial. As you might realize while reading the previous sentences, the movie wants to send the audience a message. Sometimes that can be alarming since a lot of stories tries to hit you over the head with it. I’m happy to report that Miyazaki is not one of those people. The message is more like the icing on top of a cake, with the cake being one of the best-written scripts I even witness.
When it comes to the characters, there is two that stand out. The first is Ashitaka and the second one is the titular character herself – Princess Mononoke. You can feel Ashitaka’s struggle with the demonic powers that are slow but steady killing him. While Princess Mononoke might not have many lines of dialogue, she speaks through her behavior and mannerisms. She is a fighter that lives with a similar yet different issue as Ashitaka.
My issue is that Princess Mononoke is not the child-friendly movie Miyazaki is known for. The film filled to the brim with gore and violence. Though, considering the setting and message it wants to tell, going with a different tone and aesthetic might’ve the film a disservice to the film.
It’s not so surprising that people over at Disney claiming that Hayao Miyazaki been an inspiration and influence for their work. If you have not checked this out, then I highly recommend that you do. It is breathtaking, with a story that could have gone wrong considering how unsubtle a story like this more often ends than end up as.