Princess Mononoke (1997)

The animated classic, Princess Mononoke, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, will be screened at Abbeydale Picture House this weekend as part of The Reel Steel Cult Weekender.

Studio Ghibli fans are like a loving mother, they would never pick a favourite child. All are equal in their eyes, each different, each unique, each loved.
Yet, some would say there is one film that tips the scales – one that is darker, more mature, and more intense, while still remaining completely Ghibli – that one, is Princess Mononoke.

We follow Ashitaka, a young warrior who becomes cursed while protecting his village from a demon-like-monster, and then forced to venture west to the forests. Quickly he is caught in the middle of a conflict between humans, led by Lady Eboshi, and the forest, with Princess Mononoke.

A grand, sweeping adventure which remains the studios most epic story to date, while the stakes are higher, the characters remain utterly believable; they are as compelling as they are entertaining to watch. Yet, this fully retains what makes a Ghibli film – Ghibli.

This is by far some of Hayao Miyazaki’s (writer and director) strongest storytelling, with each character, each creature feeling wholly unique and instantly recognisable.

Many of my movies have strong female leads – brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe in with all their heart” – Hayao Miyazaki

The impact of this film can still be felt today. With its release back in 1997, it was an enormous hit in the Western World – still being one of the highest grossing Japanese animations to date.

A story of gods, spirits and mythical legends, the maturity and confidence in its character storytelling and impact as a piece of genre-fiction, telling a tale of humans and their effect on the natural world, Princess Mononoke is rightly considered one of the greats.

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