Mononoke-hime (1997)

Animation, Adventure, Fantasy
Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka, Billy Crudup
On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.
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With its epic story and breathtaking visuals, Princess Mononoke is a landmark in the world of animation.
  • Miramax Films Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 26 Nov 1999 Released:
  • 19 Dec 2000 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

A true work of art that takes animation to an entirely new level10/10

I saw Mononoke Hime on its USA release back in late December 1999 under its U.S. title Princess Mononoke. I had read quite a bit about this film and its director but was still totally overwhelmed by the beauty and brutality of this movie. The complexity of this movie is something never seen in the United States in an animated movie and even exceeds that of most live action movies as well. It combines love and hate, war and romance, nobility and deception in ways rarely seen in movies today. Lines of good and evil are anything but clear cut and in the end is hope but no guarantees, no promises. This is truly an adult movie but my children, ages 12 to 15 all loved it and talked about it for days later. Even my wife who holds a strong prejudice against Japanese animation enjoyed this movie.

Go and see this movie. You won't be disappointed.
Japanese JEWEL10/10
Fantastic film! It makes me speechlessly. Good dialogs, beautiful soundtrack,incredible animation effects (take a look at the rain, at the movement of the grass, hear the sounds of the steps) and interesting characters,who are everything but ordinary. Ashitaka is captivating (what a strength, what a heart, what a soul!); San (the Princess Mononoke herself) is intriguing; and Lady Eboshi is ambiguous -is she the villain? I don't think so. After all, who can blame her? Don't let the over exploration of themes related to ecology discourage you. Go ahead and watch Mononoke. It's a totally new way of treating the conflict between men and nature, which is far from its ending. Definitely, a jewel among the predictable animations of Disney and Pixar's also predictable jokes. There are no jokes here. TAKE A LOOK AT IT!
Very touching movie!10/10

The first time I saw Princess Mononoke I was completely moved and surprised. Since it was a Studio Ghibli film dubbed by Disney I liked the fact that it wasn't a "they all lived naively ever after" film. There were no complete "good" or "bad" guys. Even Lady Eboshi the most antagonist character in the movie had a reasonable motive for trying to get rid of the animal gods and cutting down the forest. Although it her actions were environmentally damaging and wrong in general, she did it to help her people survive which is what all the species on Earth strive for. Another wonderful aspect of the plot is that it sends a message - Protect the Earth and all will survive in peace - a message either discreetly or strongly portrayed in many of Miyazaki's films. Perhaps the portrayal of this message (and the tiny hint of San and Ashitaka's romance and Moro's views on nature) was what made the film so touching to me.

Like many Miyazaki movies, the animation (as always) is wonderful and nicely detailed which is also another quality that genuine Disney films lack (thank goodness for Studio Ghibli). The music was beautiful and well suited to the movie.

The only predicament to the movie is that it is a bit downbeat and does not contain much happy laughter (oh well, I can watch My Neighbor Totoro - also a good movie - for happy laughter.).

10/10 - And my favourite movie of all time.
Allegory on the balance between humans and nature10/10

This seems to be Miyazake's most personal work, clearly a serious design. It is set in an imaginary time which blends the time of the ancient gods (Shinto style, gods of place and nature) with the settlement of humans and the coming of metalworking and war. The world is not in balance, and a distant conflict between industry and nature has wounded one of the gods of the forest, which is then killed by a sentry boy as it rampages into farmland he guards. The evil controlling it transfers to him, beginning a
slow takeover, and he must journey to the origin of the conflict to find a
way to cure himself and incidentally, as he will learn, to try to restore balance. But this is not a simplistic tale, he finds there are other characters in play, and there is good and evil in everyone, and no easy balance. The Princess (Hime) of the story is a mysterious human who has been raised by wolves (which are themselves powerful forest gods, a little reminiscent of the Amerindian Coyote myth), who becomes both his ally and his enemy. The story is not easy to understand. It has many Japanese mythic elements but even then, it is a work of Miyazake's unique imagination, and is not intended to be simple or to have a clean resolution.

The animation is spectacular, and unusual, with new elements even for Miyazake and marks a new departure for style which you can see continued in his next film, Sen to Chihiro - more nature, more wild, more jamming on elements from Japanese myth and folklore. And, continuing the trend to be more personal, concerned with ethics and character, and less sci-fi. There are at least half a dozen well developed characters threaded through the story, and their animation is wonderful in displaying subtle character.

The original Japanese soundtrack has some amazing singing and draws upon some of the best talent available for voices - in Japan, Miyazake is universally known and this was a masterpiece carefully crafted. Japanese television documented a lot of the production. The English translation drew on some good talent but they seem not to have "gotten it" quite so intensely as the Japanese crew.

If you haven't seen Miyazake, give it a try (but maybe look at Sen to Chihiro first, or even Laputa or Kiki's Delivery Service, for easier and lighter introduction to his work). Some say he is the Japanese Disney, but I don't like that. His work has a depth and sophistication that goes beyond Disney cute. There is no other animation like it. This is truly an adult work: children might like some of the visuals, but I doubt that many kids below teen age will have any idea what it is all about, and even adults will get more out of this each time you see it again.
one of the best films i've ever had the chance to see10/10

Princess Mononoke is, without a doubt, one of the best films I have ever witnessed. There has never been an animated film even close to this -- I kept thinking after I left the theater, how can Disney even have the guts to make another film after seeing this? Even live action movies pale in comparison to Princess Mononoke. There has never been a film to pay such close attention to details. Watch for the magnificent and subtle flying insects throughout the film, especially in the ancient forest, where bioluminescent dragonflies glide gently around the screen. There are thousands of subtleties such as this. You'd have to see it a dozen times to appreciate this film fully. Aside from it being the most beautiful film I've ever seen, it also has an enormously powerful script. The characters are some of the the most well rounded in all film. Ashitaka especially, the main character of the film, is so nuanced that he has become in my mind one of the great characters in film, up there with Charles Foster Kane and Jake LaMotta. I would compare him to Freder, the main character of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. His role in the film is a mediator between the forces of humans and the gods of nature. Both sides comment several times that Ashitaka must be on the other side, when he is trying desperately to convince everyone that there are no sides. Peace is the way. There is a little to be desired in the American voice talent. Claire Daines was certainly a wrong choice for San (Princess Mononoke), and Billy Bob Thornton just could not hide his southern accent, which made the character of Jigo seem more comical than he was probably supposed to be. Gillian Anderson's voice clashed with her character, the wolf god Moro, a bit. It hardly affected my passion. The film was so spectacular and beautiful that James Earl Jones could have voiced San and it would have detracted little. Definitely, though, I'm praying that they release the DVD with subtitle options. Anyway, Princess Mononoke is the best film of 1999, the best film of the 1990's, and, in my personal top ten list, no lower than #5, but closer to #2. 12 hours later and my heart is still beating with the power of Princess Mononoke! America: SEE IT!