Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke ★★★★★

An absolutely stellar, visually stunning, intelligent work. PRINCESS MONONOKE stands out not only in the pantheon of animation or Miyazaki works but in all of film itself. It is paced perfectly, expanding from the tale of a young prince who becomes cursed by a demonic boar spawned from a mysterious forest energy, into an epic scope conflict between the growth of civilization and the preservation of nature. It is a magical experience, ripe with imagination and prodigious artistic ability. PRINCESS MONONOKE is a masterpiece.

The narrative here is completely in sync with its majestic conceits. The animated form elevates the film to brilliant, startling heights. Here, the beauty and majesty of the forest's lush greens and scaling sights is matched with the wistful sagacity of the spiritual world. Both through its heavy tread into metaphysical philosophies and steer towards graphic violence, MONONOKE breaks boundaries further by not being a mere children's movie. It is deep and multifaceted, with a meaning extremely pertinent.

And perhaps the greatest lesson here is to show wariness towards extremes. San, raised as a wolf, and inundated with a pure and uncompromising love for the forest can see no good of trustworthiness in humans; the people of Irontown, the developing city bordering the sacred woods, are similarly hateful towards the dwelling naturalistic. Ashitaka, in a position that changes him into a more knowledgeable and important figure as the tale goes on exists to find the balance between the two worlds. PRINCESS MONONOKE, more a title for San's role in the spiritual forest than a name, exemplifies this timeless struggle.

The tone of the film is less curious than other Miyazaki works, choosing to somberly depict the disparities of the modernized world. Its seriousness contributes to a visceral quality; the programmed manners and hierarchies seen first in Ashitaka's village and then again in Irontown have no place in a world governed by the Great Forest Spirit and mutual understanding. The film shows the flaws in all opposing sides; acceptance of one towards the other proving to be the only answer.