Movie: Princess Mononoke
My Rating: 4 stars
Woah! I hadn’t seen this movie in a very long time. I had forgotten almost every detail of the story except for the existence of the forest-wolf-girl (Princess Mononoke), the crazy-looking, half-deer, “King of the Forest,” and those ghostly, little wood sprites. I had forgotten about the pestilence that is afflicting the countryside, and consuming the body of our protagonist, Ashitaka. I had forgotten about his ill-fated and horribly destructive deal with the neighboring, iron-forging village. And, I had certainly forgotten how brutally violent this animated movie is.
People have limbs torn from their body. Animals are stabbed in the hearts and slain (and then humans morbidly use their skins as animal disguises). The warriors murder the “King of the Forest,” deer god, in cold blood, because they no longer want to live under his magical influence. This story is practically wallowing in death. And, someone had to animate all this violence frame by frame! It’s so dark. How could this possibly be a cartoon for little kids?!? But, I still very much liked this movie. I actually respect it when a cartoon doesn’t pull any punches. Lil’ Gertie and Gabby have got to learn the facts of life sooner or later! What better medium than a cartoon to teach them about the cruel and undiscriminating clutch of death?
But, really I just like the character of Princess Mononoke. She’s so tough and cool. She spends her days running free through the forest with her wolf brothers and taking orders from no man. So, she sure isn’t interested at all in Prince Ashitaka’s advances once he notices how foxy and untamable she is. He’s boring and docile. Plus, he really screwed up her forest when he led in all those killer soldiers to hack down trees and murder wild boars. Why would she want to give up her wild life for a goober like that?
This movie is a real downer. It pretty much just illustrates how awful humans are. We’re so greedy and destructive. We’re willing to destroy almost anything if it’ll make us a quick buck. It’s so shameful! But, the animation is all very lush and atmospheric. (Same as all Studio Ghibli films, really).
And, the movie will definitely make you want to go commune with animals and nature for a little while. So, I guess watching this movie had a positive effect on my life. It made me want to be not quite so terrible. Whether I’ll actually follow through on those feelings . . . that’s another story. But, introspection is never a bad thing. So, watch this one! But, maybe don’t sit down to watch it with your little, four-year-old niece. Perhaps this is one for you to share with her eight-year-old brother instead.