Princess Mononoke is an animated fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The plot follows Prince Ashitaka (Yoji Matsuda), a young man who becomes cursed after a demon touches him while he is protecting his village: this curse will corrupt and eventually kill Ashitaka if it is not lifted. As such he ventures out into the wilds to find a cure. Along the way he ends up caught in the middle of a battle between the forces of the forest lead by a giant wolf called Moro (Akihiro Miwa), and a giant boar called Okkoto-nushi (Hisaya Morishige) and the humans of Iron Town lead by Lady Eboshi (Yuko Tanaka) who are backed by the might of the Emperor.
This was my first time watching a Studio Ghibli film, shocking I know right, and I just have to say it was fantastic, it was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Each frame of the hand drawn animation looked like a beautiful painting, there were many scenes where I was amazed by the level of detail that had gone in to creating this world. The world itself felt so real, it felt like the kind of thing that could have existed one day years ago.
The relationship between Ashitaka and San (Yuriko Ishida), is beautiful and very wholesome. We see each learn to trust each other more over time and eventually realise the feelings they have for one another. Also, their union represents the coming together of humans and nature, which I think is an interesting contrast, especially in these current times, however sadly it shows that ultimately humans will destroy nature for their own ends, the film suggests an inevitability to it.
The final thing I want to talk about is the Forest Spirit. It is the head of this spirit and its believed mythical abilities that caused the war in the first place, it is the life of the Forest Spirit that the forces of the forest are fighting for. However, the creature itself is the stuff of nightmares, it is deer like in a lot of ways, but it has a human face and the first time I saw it, I’m not going to lie, it scared me a bit; I thought it was going to turn out to be a demon, but no. The spirits haunting eyes will say with you long after you turn the film off; just staring contently into your soul.
Overall, a wonderful experience rich with culture and meaning, I will definitely be checking out more Studio Ghibli films in the future as I thought this was superb.
The balance between nature and industrialisation.
The believable world.
The fantasy elements.
San and Ashitaka.
The Spirit of the Forest will haunt my dreams for years to come.
Reviewed by Luke