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Princess Mononoke (Special Edition) - 5.97

This epic, animated 1997 fantasy has 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

Customer reviews (av rating: 5.0):

Rating: 5:
Moving, Brilliant, Beautiful, Magical etc. : Having already owned 'Spirited Away' and 'Howls Moving Castle' on DVD, I searched for another epic; and found it. This film, as all other Miyazaki productions do, takes you on a wonderfully moving journey. The imagination and deepness to the story is beautiful, the characters are brilliantly developed and the quality of the animation (now 10 years old) is awe inspiring. I would struggle to believe that anyone could actually not like this film, because it should appeal to all audiences. Yes, it contains serious themes and some violence, but it is still very much a family film for everyone to enjoy.

Rating: 5:
Oriental perfection : Princess Mononoke was the first Studio Ghibli film saw and it immediatly pulled me in to the magic of Japanese animation. Although the plot may sound very serious, (A curse isn't exactly fun and games) there are some funny bits. a definite 10/10 :)

Rating: 5:
Beautiful, moving, spiritual masterpeice : This motion picture made me cry several times when i watched it. The animation is absolutely breath taking, and the story is so poignant, in many ways relevant to our own world. People can learn a lesson from this beautiful and stirring film. Otherwise it is just a joy to watch. The musical score, actors voice overs, animation and story line is incredible and handsomely done. A completely refreshing, emotional and heartfelt masterpeice, which utterly stands out in a league of its own in a world of movies and cartoons which are stodgy, bland and arrogant. Miyazaki is a genius!

Rating: 5:
A Triumph : Absolutely beautiful from start to finish, Princess Mononoke is by far and away my favourite Studio Ghibli production. A must for anyone interested in fantasy adventure, manga or animation. More please!

Rating: 5:
Definitely one of Miyazaki's best : Princess Mononoke is by far my favourite Studio Ghibli film. The artwork and the music are stunning.

I found the film quite moving too - it covers so many issues and though-provoking concepts to do with nature and how we as humans treat our environment. It is so beautiful.

Any Miyazaki fan, or anyone looking for a film with something deeper behind it, will love Princess Mononoke.

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