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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Princess Mononoke - 1997

For my second review in the marathon, I will be reviewing the film I just recently saw, and what is one that many consider to be Miyazaki's masterpiece. From the five films I have seen of his, I would still pick Spirited Away over Princess Mononoke, but it was still a brilliant film. Definitely one of the better ones I have seen so far, and I am excited to see more!

Ashitaka (Billy Crudup) is a young warrior who one day sees a bore on a rampage toward his village. The bore has been possessed by a demon, and Ashitaka is forced to kill the bore, which curses him with a deadly disease. Now he must travel to the forests to hopefully find a cure, but while he is there he gets caught up in a war between the forest animals and the humans. Lady Eboshi leads the towns people of the forest to try and eliminate the trees, while Princess Mononokem who was raised by wolves, attempts to save the forest and everything in it. Ashitaka works as a peace maker while he tries to get a cure and live his life.

Princess Mononoke shows Hayao Miyazaki's storytelling at his finest. But I must say, due to some mild language throughout the film and blood and gore, I would not recommend this film for children. Many of Miyazaki's films are for kids and family, but this is not one of them. Nothing lower than a PG-13 rating would suite this film. Aside from that, if you are a Miyazaki fan, and have not seen this watch it immediately, as it is one of the best I have seen so far. However, I would like to mention that Princess Mononoke is a taste specific film, and it is one of Miyazaki's weirder works. So if you already do not like Miyazaki then do not bother with this film, you will find it a waste of time.

The thing I loves most about Princess Mononoke, besides the always fantastic animation, is the way that the story was told. It was a seemingly simple story, that has been used in similar video games and other movies alike. But Hayao Miyazaki takes it and makes it more than that. He builds characters that stick with the audience, and once the film hits the climax of the story combining with the beautiful musical score, we sit in awe at the amazing story we have been given. Everything about the story was developed perfectly, and as it was drawn into a close with an ending that is too fine to pass up. I expressed in my previous review of Ponyo that I disliked certain aspects of the story, and this is why, here Miyazaki proves his power as not only a great animator, but an unbelievably talented storyteller. I honestly do not think he gets enough recognition. I was looking on several different websites, and the average rating for a Pixar film was far better than that of Miyazaki's, and to be completely truthful, I probably would rather watch his movies than any other animation departments.

The acting though, I cannot say I was too fond of. It was good, but compared to other Miyazaki films I did not find it that great. Billy Crudup was probably my biggest complaint about the whole film. He seemed the entire time as if he was struggling to get his words out, which really got on my nerves, it was not necessarily I bad performance, but for me personally it was annoying. The rest of the cast was fine, but I found it interesting how mIyazaki made tha animal's mouths move to the words. It was certainly an odd technique, but it worked.

My favorite part of the film, as with all of Miyazaki's films, was the animation. Through all of the action it was breathtaking, some of the finest movements I have seen in any animated film. And the best part of all was the forest scenes, as you can probably tell by the picture I posted. The animation works like the way special effects do in a real film, but better. I am completely and entirely glued to the television because of the beauty of what is on the screen. That is something, and a feeling that only Miyazaki has ever put in me, and that is one of the many things that makes him as brilliant as he is.

Overall, Princess Mononoke is one of Miyazaki's best, and a beautiful piece of storytelling. I don't think I would go as far as calling it a masterpiece, but this is one of the better animation films I have seen. Probably top 30 or 20 material. If you like animated films, don't miss this.

Story: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Acting: 8/10
Direction: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Final Rating: 9.6/10


  1. I liked this film when I saw it, which was several years ago. I look forward to your Howl's Moving Castle review if you choose to watch that film. Its one of my favorites!
    Good Review

  2. Thanks Gemma, I will be seeing and reviewing all of Miyazaki's films!

  3. God i'm old, i saw this when it first came out in Tokyo 1997 when i was really young. And trust me your better of seeing this when your really young than being in your teens.

    Nice review again Matt, i like this more over Spirited Away though.

  4. Yeah, well I am in my teens, so that's unfortunate haha. I can understand why, it was a close call for me. Thanks!

  5. I haven't seen this one yet. I'm looking forward to it. Enjoyed your review.

  6. Thanks Chris, means a lot. Have you seen any of Miyazaki's films? If not, I would suggest starting with Castle in the Sky, or Spirited Away. Those give you a better feel for his films, but Princess Mononoke is still brilliant!

  7. Mononoke is my favourite of all Miyazaki's films, with Totoro and Porco Rosso close behind.

  8. Understandable. Thanks for reading!