Sunday, April 17, 2011

PRINCESS MONONOKE (Japanese) (1997)

One of the most popular Japanese animation film that out grossed even ‘Titanic’ when released. It’s completely different Miyazaki compared to his almost ten years earlier light hearted child animation ‘My Neighbor Totoro’. It’s epical adventure where Nature is the character, plot and theme from beginning to end. I won’t exaggerate calling it Miyazaki’s ‘Avatar’.

While fighting with unusual demon monster, the last prince named Ashikata is cursed and infected with evil marks on his arms that soon made him die. The only way to survive for him is witnessing forbidden forest with eyes unclouded by hate. In a way he’s a symbol or Miyazaki’s passing cultural message to new generation. If his one arm is cursed with evil and the other is trying to curb it. Ashikata is facilitator and the central protagonist of the plot centers on the struggle between the animal spirits inhabiting in the forest Vs the humans exploiting the forest for industrial greed. In the forest he meets Lady Eboshi, who with an iron factory in a forest dreaming about ruling the world guided by her greedy and cunning fellow men and a wild wolf princess who hates humans for what they do to forest and help and repay Ashikata for saving her life once.

Weaving many of Japanese folklores and natural myths into cinematic fantasy, Miyazaki created awesome and sublime images of mother nature with forest spirits that gifts life and takes life away too. It has stunning natural visuals and watching closely some of them gives you glance of 3D effects in many of the scenes. Those good spirits and evil spirits in Ashitaka’s arduous journey to forest must be food of thought for Cameron’s blockbuster hit ‘Avatar’.

Quite unusual for animation film it has bloodshed and killing scenes but than it’s not just film for kids, Miyazaki has woven underlying themes of environment and ecology, the concerning questions of today’s world and that’s a big message for adults as well. What happens when good spirit of the forest who’s balancing the nature is beheaded by Lady Eboshi? It makes you feel pain watching all forest turning dead before getting its head back. But in the end it’s all fun watching those tiny tree spirits (seems like zoo zoos in Vodafone advertisements) making weird sound turning their heads once again.


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