Princess Mononoke (Blu-ray + DVD)
DVD + Blu-ray
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Witness the majesty of celebrated animated film director Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece, PRINCESS MONONOKE, for the first time ever on Blu-ray High Definition. This exquisitely animated, critically acclaimed adventure from one of the most illustrious filmmakers of all time is now even more spectacular with dazzling HD picture and sound! Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior named Ashitaka sets out to the forests of the west in search of the cure that will save his life. Once there, he becomes inextricably entangled in a bitter battle that matches Lady Eboshi and a proud clan of humans against the forest's animal gods... who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves. This monumental struggle between man and nature will have you transfixed as stunning artistry blends with epic storytelling to create a uniquely entertaining motion picture. Experience it like never before on Disney Blu-ray!|As of 2001, PRINCESS MONONOKE is one of only two films to ever break $150 million at the Japanese box office -- the other is TITANIC.
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Princes Mononoke could have been another man versus nature and the world out of balance movie we have seen too many times. Instead we have man and nature in conflict but with a near absence of obviously evil industrialists and purely motivated united forest spirits. Gods can become demons, and seen as evil by humans and nature. The tribes within the world of nature are not natural allies and can have their own selfish motives. The human who is supposed to embody evil, Lady Eboshi (Voice acted by Minnie Driver) is a fierce warrior and hard nosed business woman but she is also good to her people and makes a point of finding better lives for people who would be cast offs and shunned in the larger world.
On the subject of voice overs, Disney deserves credit having assembled a cast that included Billy Bob Thornton, Gillian Anderson, Claire Danes and Billy Crudup. Made too clear to us in the included specials is the extra effort made by the voice actors and Disney to insure that the American dialogue fits with the animated Japanese speaking characters.
As for the work of the director and his studio. What struck me most about Princes Mononoke was the balance between artistic detail and the flow of the story. Hayao Muyazaki has a tendency for story lines that can drag. I prefer to say they speed of motion can be stately. The Wind Rises remains among my favorite HM movies, but like The Wife says it is slow. Even the action movieLupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (Collector's Edition) can drag, usually when the Studio is highlighting it's artwork. In Princess there was no lag in the story line. Scene action and plot development move logically forward even in the moments when the viewer is invited to enjoy the scenery.
But what artwork it is! Studio Ghibli is always at its best drawing the sky and aerial views. Ghibli is also the master of fields and forests. Sometimes at the cost of foregrounds, manmade and human details. In Princess all of the elements view together in harmony. It may be that some level of detail has been lost, but if so, only to produce a more balanced picture. Studio Ghibli movies can be fine visual art at the expense of movement, I never felt that watching Princess Mononoke.
Princess Mononoke tells the story of Ashitaka, a courageous warrior who, soon into the movie, battles a cursed boar god on a rampage in his homeland. Ashitaka is able to slay the beast, but just before he does, it latches onto him and afflicts him with its curse.
In an effort to lift the curse, which he soon finds is deadly, Ashitaka heads west. Along the way, he discovers several mystical creatures in the forest, one of them being the beautiful San, a young girl who lives among wolves and despises humans, yet who must somehow reconcile her antagonism to mankind with her own humanity and her fondness for Ashitaka. After emerging from the woods, Ashitaka becomes acquainted with the workers at a mining colony whose weapons, he learns, have inflicted this curse upon him.
Finding himself in a conflict between the workers of the mining colony, who wish to advance their civilization at the expense of the natural world, and the forest gods, who have declared all humans as the enemy, Ashitaka must choose between fighting alongside the forest gods as well as San, whom he cares deeply for, and defending his own kind.
In a riveting war between man and beast, the creatures of the forest are left with no choice but to retaliate against the humans' progressively hostile and encroaching way of life. An epic battle ensues, one that, while imbued with fantasy and myth, is surprisingly relevant to the world at large. In depicting the disconnect between man and nature, the film posseses true allegorical significance as, even amid great chaos and suffering, it contains rare moments of redemption and peace.
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