A few weeks ago I finally decided to watch Princess Mononoke. I had always seen it everywhere but never took the time to watch it. Since it is the 20th anniversary of the movie this year, the time had come for me to give it a go.
Princess Mononoke is an animated film created by Hayao Miyazaki and the studio Ghibli in 1997. It is about a boy called Ashitaka who fights and kills an evil animal, who was a danger for the villager. However he has been marked during the battle and is banished from his village. He then has to go in the forest to find a cure for himself. He soon realizes that the mark gives him power but also a lack of control. He discovers both the world of San (Princess Mononoke) living with the wolves and the town life lead by Dame Eboshi. He learns more about their conflict and the impact their disagreement has, both on nature and the human life.
Compared to other studio Ghibli films, Princess Mononoke is quite violent and aimed at a more mature audience.
What struck me the most when I started the film was the animation. I found it both old school and very polished and meticulous. It is all in drawings and paintings. We see the shadows of the trees and the forest and the details of the evil creature in one of the first scene. It is beautiful and very different compared to the new animated films done by computers.
Another element that surprised me was the general message of the film. It highlights the conflict between men and nature and the consequences of it. There is an environmentalist point of view that I find advanced for the 90’s. It is quite moralistic too and shows the damage done by humans on nature and what will happen if it continues. It was made to create a reaction and to raise awareness on this issue.
I also enjoyed seeing how the town life was organized. What are the roles of men and women ? What are their jobs ? What are they after ? Why do they want San dead ? I thought we had a broad picture of how their society is organized and not just an overall view.
I found that the music matched beautifully the movie and the story. I really enjoyed the representations of evil and the spirit of the forest that reminded heaven. The end of the film leaves us with a powerful message. Indeed, without the soul of the forest, which represents the prosperity of nature, humans can’t survive either. They need to find balance to have a better life and that can’t be done by exterminating nature.
A lot of thought went into this film. It is truly a gold nugget and I now understand why it is a classic of the studio Ghibli.
« As long as we’re alive we’ll manage ».
Have seen it yet ? What have you thought of it ? Or have you postpone it multiple times like I did ?
See you soon