Saturday, August 17, 2013

915. Mononoke hime/Princess Mononoke (1997)

Running Time: 133 minutes
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Written By: Hayao Miyazaki
Main Cast: (voices): Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Billy Bob Thornton, John DeMita
Click here to view the trailer


This will wrap up the new side of things and from here, we'll swing back to the front half of THE BOOK, as I work my way a little closer, from THAT end of the spectrum. Gotta' say, despite loving "Spirited Away" (a TOP 20 film), I wasn't looking forward to "Princess Mononoke", as I'd seen it once before and remembered really disliking it. My speculations weren't far off...

If you'd want to sum up "Princess Mononoke" in a few words, you could say that it's a very fantasy driven film (as are all Miyazaki's films), that takes the man vs. nature story to a whole new level. The main character is NOT Princess Mononoke, but rather, a prince named Ashitaka, who, while fighting a possessed boar (covered in worm-like creatures, complete with spider legs), becomes infected with a curse, which will eventually turn him evil and ultimately kill him. Ashitaka is sent away from his village and into the forest, where his only hope is finding the spirit of the forest, who MAY be able to save him. Along the way, Ashitaka realizes that the curse has also given him superhuman fighting abilities, allowing him to use his bows and arrow to decapitate (among other things) his enemies. Eventually, Ashitaka lands in a small village called Irontown, where he meets with Lady Eboshi and it is revealed that the demon boar that Ashitaka fought (and killed) was formerly the boar God, Nago and that Lady Eboshi is responsible for his transformation. It is here that Ashitaka also learns of Princess Mononoke, a girl named San who was raised by wolves. It is Ashitaka's plan to find the spirit of the forest and see if his curse can be lifted. Meanwhile, Jigo, a monk, is hot on the tail of the spirit of the forest himself and plans to behead the spirit and present the head to the emperor.

It goes on from there, but that's the basics. When I wrote my "Spirited Away" review, I wrote how astonished I was that I ACTUALLY liked that movie, as I just wasn't someone who normally took to such fantastical stories. However, there was something about "Spirited" that just grabbed me and didn't let go until Chihiro's final words. Perhaps it was the fact that we were watching a girl from outside the fantasy world, enter it and interact with spirits and such and here, with "Mononoke", we were just placed in that world from the get go. I don't know - all I can tell you is that I "Princess Mononoke" just didn't do a thing for me and really left me staring at the clock, wondering when this was all going to be over. Speaking of that, this one just runs a little on the long side and honestly, with a little snipping in the right spots, this could've been sped up and possibly been a bit easier to get through. Also, and this is going to sound really petty, but I never dug the whole talking animals thing. Don't ask me why, but that's just somewhere my imagination can't go and it's always been something that's almost immediately turned me off to a story. I realize how ridiculous it is, but it's just one of my quirks, I guess. There may have even been talking animals in "Spirited Away", but i know it wasn't nearly as prevalent as it was here.

All I know is that "Mononoke" wasn't my cup of tea and left me wondering whether or not I loved or hated Miyazaki. I guess it's all going to come down to a third film from the master animator, for me to be able to decide a definitive "yay" or "nay". And yes, I still do consider him a master animator, as "Mononoke" LOOKED like a million bucks. There were times when I completely forgot I was watching an animated film and then the rich greens and blues would grab me around the collar and refresh my memory. Some of the images were simply awesome, such as the "night walker" (the form the forest spirit takes at night) and a tree full of demon eyed monkeys. If I were simply judging the animation, I'd be going a full blown '10", no doubt. However, it's the story that I was more concerned with and as much as I'm sure it gripped and engaged millions of you, it just didn't have the same effect on this reviewer. However, if anyone out there has a good suggestion for a third Miyazaki film, the one that will help me decide whether I love or hate him, drop me a comment.

RATING: 4/10  And that's really stretching to get it all I can. I wouldn't be surprised if that rating went down another half point or maybe even a whole point come RECAP time.


Winchester '73 (1950 - Anthony Mann)
Rio Grande (1950 - John Ford)
All About Eve (1950 - Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
Los Olvidados (1950 - Luis Bunuel)
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951 - Albert Lewin)

August 17, 2013  10:40pm


  1. No, this failed to fully grab me also.
    I may go a little higher than you.. but not much. A little too much 'cuteness' -which I'm afraid sometimes crops up in Ghibli (but nowhere near as much as Disney).
    My favourite remains 'Porco Rosso'.

    1. Glad I'm not alone here. As always, thanks Ray!

  2. .. Thank you also..
    I'm mystified as to WHY I failed to take to it. I should have.. I expected to..I went in as a 'friendly witness', intending to like it..
    Maybe because it was my first Studio Ghibli film and I wasn't tuned in to something very different in the world of animation to what we are used to in the west?

    1. Well "Spirited Away" was my first Studio Ghibli film and I didn't expect to like it and did, so apparently there's no real science to our own tastes.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...