Tom (Webmaster)

Based on:  Whole Film

UK Distributor:  Miramax (DVD & VHS)

Excellent visuals, excellent music and an excellent plot make up one of the highest grossing films in Japanese history.

A startling achievement from Miyazaki, Princess Mononoke is one of the few anime which manages to retain a serious message throughout and does no waver into the realms of humour and fantasy as he does not need to.  Never talking down to itís audience and never obviously revealing the filmís message.  However, the filmís greatest strength is also itís downfall.

This is because the film often becomes too serious and preachy for its own good.  Although none of the characters are truly good and evil, the script does not allow for the viewer to decide for themselves who is exactly right and wrong in the film as the main character Ė Ashitaka Ė is obviously the embodiment of all that is good and being affected by the demon's evil clearly has not changed his thinking at all.  It is a shame Miyazaki decided to place such a one-dimensional character as the lead and then create several other characters which reflect the battle between Man and nature throughout the film.  Ashitaka sometimes seem to close to being a Christ-like figure for my liking.  Miyazaki fans may draw comparisons to his earlier creation Nausicaš, which contains a main character (named Nausicaš) similar to Ashitaka but unlike him has a light-hearted touch that makes the character much more easy going and her character is a celebration of life where as Ashitaka is like the vegetarian who will not stop telling others that they should be as well.

Despite being one of the best known, this is actually Miyazakiís least accessible film not only due to itís lack of fun that all his other films contain but also due to the fact that itís story is based heavily around Japanese myths and legends.  Miyazakiís other films are based in his own fantasy worlds that everyone can access easily, but Princess Mononoke may prove a challenge to anime newcomers.

The above criticisms are minor however and are mainly based on comparisons to Miyazakiís other works.  What I mentioned earlier about none of the characters being truly good or evil must be applauded though as it is very rare to see a serious film Ė anime or otherwise Ė which can achieve this.  Miyazaki is one of the few that can pull it off.  Also there are not many anime which this can be compared to in terms of itís grand and epic scale that will take breath away.

Princess Mononoke is a very very good film which I always enjoy very much when I watch it but I cannot describe it as a masterpiece due to a few faults.  And it cannot be denied that Miyazaki did the same story much better with Nausicaš.


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