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Claire Danes (THE MOD SQUAD), Minnie Driver (GOOD WILL HUNTING), and Billy Bob Thornton (ARMAGEDDON, SLING BLADE) head a cast of hot Hollywood stars who lend their talents to this exquisitely animated, overwhelmingly acclaimed adventure epic! Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior named Ashitaka (Billy Crudup -- WITHOUT LIMITS) sets out for 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 (Driver) and a proud clan of humans against the forest's animal gods...who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke (Danes), a young woman raised by wolves! Also starring Gillian Anderson (THE X-FILES) and Jada Pinkett Smith (SCREAM 2), this monumental struggle between man and nature will have you transfixed with amazement as stunning artistry blends with epic storytelling to create a uniquely entertaining motion picture!|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.
Before it ever arrived in the U.S., this epic, animated 1997 fantasy had already made history as the top-grossing domestic feature ever released in Japan, where its combination of mythic themes, mystical forces, and ravishing visuals tapped deeply into cultural identity and contemporary, ecological anxieties. For international animation and anime fans, Princess Mononoke represents an auspicious next step for its revered creator, Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service), an acknowledged anime pioneer, whose painterly style, vivid character design, and stylized approach to storytelling take ambitious, evolutionary steps here.
Set in medieval Japan, Miyazaki's original story envisions a struggle between nature and man. The march of technology, embodied in the dark iron forges of the ambitious Tatara clan, threatens the natural forces explicit in the benevolent Great God of the Forest and the wide-eyed, spectral spirits he protects. When Ashitaka, a young warrior from a remote, and endangered, village clan, kills a ravenous, boar-like monster, he discovers the beast is in fact an infectious "demon god," transformed by human anger. Ashitaka's quest to solve the beast's fatal curse brings him into the midst of human political intrigues as well as the more crucial battle between man and nature.
Miyazaki's convoluted fable is clearly not the stuff of kiddie matinees, nor is the often graphic violence depicted during the battles that ensue. If some younger viewers (or less attentive older ones) will wish for a diagram to sort out the players, Miyazaki's atmospheric world and its lush visual design are reasons enough to watch. For the English-language version, Miramax assembled an impressive vocal cast including Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup (as Ashitaka), Claire Danes (as San), Minnie Driver (as Lady Eboshi), Billy Bob Thornton, and Jada Pinkett Smith. They bring added nuance to a very different kind of magic kingdom. Recommended for ages 12 and older. --Sam Sutherland
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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.
This was on my list of must see anime. The artwork is beautiful, and it is a fun story if you enjoy anime.
Hayao Miyazaki is probably the most respected anime artists out there. I collect his movies, and they never
disappoint me with the quality that is in them. I would recommend it for older children as there is violence.
If you want to read Roger Ebert's review of the film (It was one of the best in 1999!), then just google it.
Here is some of what he said, "Hayao Miyazaki is a great animator, and his "Princess Mononoke" is a great film. Do not allow conventional thoughts about animation to prevent you from seeing it. It tells an epic story set in medieval Japan, at the dawn of the Iron Age, when some men still lived in harmony with nature and others were trying to tame and defeat it. It is not a simplistic tale of good and evil, but the story of how humans, forest animals and nature gods all fight for their share of the new emerging order. It is one of the most visually inventive films I have ever seen."
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