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'Princess Mononoke' Movie Review

Brett Nichols

Posted on February 23, 2020 23:45

3 users

A review for the 1997 Studio Ghibli classic animated film 'Princess Mononoke.' While the film is not the most kid-friendly, the voice acting, beautiful animation, and captivating and heartbreaking story make this film suitable for Ghibli and Miyazaki fans new and old.

The story of Princess Mononoke centers and begins with a young man named Ashitaka, who is forced into a fight with a demonic beast. Though he does not want to kill the creature, he has no other choice in order to save the lives of some villagers.

Unfortunately, due to his skirmish, he is vexed with a curse that will soon take his life. The protagonist ventures from his village to seek a cure from the forest spirit for his disease; however, in his travels, he inadvertently finds himself in a war between the forest gods and a group of hunters within a mining village.

The viewer stands in the shoes of the protagonist cornered within the conflict between the two factions, where the lines of who are the "good guys" and "bad guys" are not always crystal clear. Where he attempts to bring peace between the two with the assistance of the reluctant princess of the forest creatures. Though his goal only becomes more difficult the further the bloodshed grows between the factions, in addition to the fact that his curse is growing more dire. Will he be able to end his curse along with ending the war between the humans and divine beasts?

Princess Mononoke contains larger than life action and illustrious artwork. But at its core, it is a beautiful and tragic tale of how complicated hate and war can be, and that that love and peace should ultimately be fought for. It alludes to its audience to live life in love, and while loss and pain are a part of life, if love prevails, it can change the outcome in seemingly impossible situations.

A notable feature of this film is its excellent voice work, with the likes of Keith David, Clair Danes, and Billy Crudup, the film’s immense emotional depth stands out all the more with the all-star cast, highlighting the real emotions of the characters that stand within the brutal of the factions.

Where most Studio Ghibli movies are primarily kid-friendly, Princess Mononoke is a surprising exception to the rule. As its themes are centered around a war conflict, the film conveys this message with fairly frequent violence – even including decapitation fairly early in the film’s two-hour and thirteen-minute runtime. Another notable instance is in the final stretch of the film, where very morbid imagery is used (I won’t share due to it going into spoiler territory). The movie also explicitly references individuals who previously worked in a brothel. However, while these sequences are not recommended to younger viewers, they do not detract from the film’s profound message.

Princess Mononoke is a film that is definitely recommended for Studio Ghibli fans as well as any newcomer who wants to experience one of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterful works for the first time. The film has a timeless message that all people can benefit from, and it will keep you thinking about the story and characters for a long time after.

Brett Nichols

Posted on February 23, 2020 23:45

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