Movie Review: Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke // "Set during the Muromachi Period (1333-1568) of Japan, Mononoke Hime is a story about a mystic fight between the Animal Gods of the forest and humans."

This doesn't really do this delightful film justice. Then again, neither did the voicing on the dubbed over American release.

This is an epic heroic fantasy story by writer/director Hayao Miyazaki. His signature plot complexity and visual wierdness delight many but is offputting to some. The story is thematically strong but unusually ambiguous.

Ashitaka is the hero, nobly born, who is mortally wounded defending his remote village from a demon of the forest. He is exiled, not unkindly, by the village elders according to the law of the clan, and Ashitaka goes without complaint into the west to meet his doom, riding his faithful red elk Yakkul.

Ashitaka is told that his cursed wound will certainly kill him, but that he might at least face his fate with courage in the west.

To make a long story short, he comes across "Iron Town", a human stronghold run by the strong and confident Lady Eboshi. There is a long-running struggle between the town and the spirits of the forest: Eboshi wants to cut down the forest and mine the ore of the mountain, and the forest spirits don't want their home destroyed. Complicating matters is the existance of one "Princess Mononoke" who has been raised by the wolf-god and who is not quite all human herself. Ashitaka immediately falls in love with her, and despite a difficult courtship that involves death threats from Mononoke, she ends up feeling the same way.

Ashitaka is a warrior, and, although very reluctant to do so, is able to kick some serious ass. He is fearless, generous, strong, and seems to have a good sense of perspective on things. A good role-model, I think.

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