114 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2007
In my opinion this is the best film from Studio Ghibli, and possibly the best animated film ever. This is because all of the different parts- the images, the story and the music- work together perfectly to transport the viewer to another world. Yes, it is set in Japan, but a Japan where iron was still a novelty and giant talking animal-gods ruled the land.
The imagery is probably the first thing that blew me away with this film. Even at the very beginning, there is about half a second of the hero, Ashitaka, riding through a wood, with the light and shade dappling his clothing so realistically that you are almost fooled into thinking it's a live-action shot they've sneaked in. The design of the characters, from the humans to the gods, is flawless, and some show real imagination (particularly the kodama).
The film's story is also brilliantly written, and never feels rushed or drawn out (although the ending feels a little abrupt). I won't waste time with a synopsis (as there's one above). I found that I became really emotionally attached to all of the characters, and you are constantly torn between which side you want to win; I eventually sided with Ashitaka, who basically just wants everyone to get along together, and although I found the ending a little rushed, it was extremely well done, and tied up most loose ends whilst leaving a sense of mystery.
However, it is the music that I think really makes this film stand out. The tunes are all beautiful on their own, but when paired with the imagery they help enormously to bring out all the emotions that Miyazaki (probably) intended. After hearing the song in the final scene, you'll have it stuck in your head for days.
Finally, I would say that this film is, like all anime, best viewed in the Japanese, with subtitles. The dub is better than most, but quite a few things are altered (for example most of the final scene, which really is the bit that should have been left intact). I also found that the American accents of the actors helped to remind me that I was watching a film, as opposed to living it. Be warned though, if watching with younger children; the subtitles do include a b-word or two.
Although some people have complained about the violence and gore, I don't think this is justified. Ghibli don't just make films for little kids, and Miyazaki wouldn't have included meaningless violence, as it's just not his style. It serves to remind us of the constant conflict between man and nature, and how cruel humans can be, which is one of the hardest-hitting messages in the film.
Overall, this is a film that you can't really go wrong with, as it's enjoyable on every level. Apart from very small children, this is great for any age group, and every self-respecting film fan should have it on their shelf.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
When I heard that this film was finally coming out over here I was very excited. I'd never seen it before, but had seen other works of Hayao Miyazaki such as Totoro and Cagliostro. I was worried when I heard it had been bought and dubbed by Disney, fearing another mangled and edited poor translation as happened with Nausicaa /warriors of the wind.
However, the translation is superb - done by no less than Neil Gaimen of Sandman fame - and the voice acting actually very good, with little of the poor acting and odd characterisation we've come to be used to. Perhaps the translation looses us some of the finer points, but none the less, it's superb.
The film - What can I say? This is an epic tale that will draw anyone in who starts watching it, no matter how old they are. I watched this with my father, who's not a fan of animation (especially not Japanese animation), and he was enthralled, loving the beauty and the characters. It's certainly not a children's film, as it becomes quite dark towards the end. Dealing with themes such as mankind's effect on the environment and the destructive power of anger, this film tells the tale of the conflicts between a group of humans and a group of nature gods. Some scenes have echoes of Nausicaa, especially in character designs, and fans of Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood books will find much they like here. Scenes of the Forest Spirit changing from the Night Walker to a multi horned, human faced deer that can walk on water have a strange magical pagan feel to them, and an eerie beauty.
I'm trying not to say too much about the story as to give things away would be a crime if you've not seen the film before. I will say this : the ending is spectacular and satisfying - in some ways it reminds me of the finale of Akira - yet it still manages to remain open ended. The viewer and the characters are treated with respect and we're not given a cut and dried "punish the bad / reward the good" ending. Indeed, there are few characters in the film who can be viewed as purely bad. This is a good thing.
This package doesn't have too many extras. You can see a nice trailer, a short making of film, and have the option to watch in the original language, which is always nice. You do get Helen McCarthy's excellent book on Hayao Miyazaki, and that is a superb bonus. Let's hope that we start to see more films given this treatment soon!
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2001
One of Japan's most successful films finally gets a release in the UK. Essentially a tale of man's destruction of nature, the brilliant storytelling of Miyazaki presents us with one of the most enjoyable fantasy tales since Star Wars. Set in a time when forests cover the Earth huge forest Gods keep watch over the creatures that inhabit the woods. When young prince Ashitaka slays a Boar God turned Demon he's left with a curse on his arm that threatens to kill him. His only option is to travel to where the demon came from in hope of a way to lift the curse, instead he enters a conflict between the miners of Iron Town and the wolf clan of Moro and San, the Princess Mononoke. The english language version is suprisingly of high standard compared to other dubs of Japanese movies. Featuring the voices of stars like Gillian Anderson and Billy Bob Thornton i didnt find myself wishing to view it in its original language unlike Akira. Special mention must be made to the terrific score by Joe Hisaishi which adds to the emotion of the story. Mononoke doesn't have the cgi effects of Shrek and recent Disney animations but it has some of the most imaginitive ideas seen on screen whether it be live action or animation. One word of warning though, Japanese anime's don't hold back on violence and some scenes in Mononoke may not be suitable for young children, but if your dismayed at the lack of quality at the cinema this summer this is one blockbuster you may well want to check out and an absolute must for fans of Manga and Anime.
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2006
Set in Muromachi Era Japan, near the end of the 1400s, this film depicts the painful transition from a medieval to a modern society, particularly focusing on humankind's changing relationship with nature. It follows the adventures of Ashitaka, a member of a hidden remnant of the extinct Emishi tribe of Honshuu, who is cursed by a tatarigami, a raging boar god who wants to take revenge on humans for the destruction of his forest.
Ashitaka's journey takes him through samurai wars and the mysterious virgin forest, which is still populated by nature gods in the form of giant animals and where he meets the elusive Mononoke Hime, to a mining village that is struggling against the revenge attacks of the gods. Ashitaka, who sympathises with both sides of the struggle between man and nature, must return to the forest to seek the shishigami nature god of life and death in order to lift the curse.
Miyazaki's masterpiece, possibly his greatest film, is highly recommended to all fans of anime. It is his most complete statement about his views on nature and man's impact on the environment. The animation is gorgeous, and nature is really lush and vivid. The music, written, as always in Miyazaki films, by Joe Hisaishi, is excellent and the sound effects are spot on. The action is just awesome, and there are lots of battles with gods and samurai which make this anime truly epic.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 January 2008
A superb example of what animation should be instead of the hackneyed, clichéd, straight-to-video rubbish that one usually gets. The story is stunning, the animation is great and the voices in the English dub are excellent with some big names (Minnie Driver and Clare Danes to name two!) in the mix.
As another reviewer said, this is not a film for young children. I would not show this to a child under 10 or 12, as it has some blood, violence and relatively gruesome scenes. There are also quite a few parts which would scare younger children, including the opening scene with the boar-demon. Don't be fooled by the "PG" rating, I'd give this a 12 or a 12A had it been my decision.
Along with this, also watch "Spirited Away", another classic anime from Studio Ghibli, which is also more child-friendly than Princess Mononoke. Also try "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Nausicaa".
An excellent introduction to anime and a great addition to any DVD collection.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2001
Finally after years in the dark, the UK gets not only one of the greatest animated films ever, but possibly one of the greatest films ever made. Hayao Miyazaki is a god amongst animators and it's not difficult to see why from this beautiful film. For anyone who is even remotely interested in anime, this movie is a must have and for everyone else, this shows the world just how great the genre is. Forget the stereotypical violence etc, this is what japanese animation is all about. The DVD set in itself is a brilliant introduction to anime in itself, although not mentioned above, the DVD also includes a book about the past films made by the director of this film. This DVD set is fantastic, everything is in here that a film this grand should have. Only one thing prevents this set from being perfect though, the subtitles used in the japanses language version isn't so much a translation of the Japanese original, but more like a script for the English version, something which is painfully obvious throughout the film, whether you understand Japanese or not. Even so this should no way detract from the purchase of this DVD, an absolute must buy.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2008
ok, so i haven't seen all the anime or even all the studio ghibli films BUT out of those i have seen (and that includes the very almost equally fantastic spirited away) i can wholeheartedly say this is still the best. perhaps one of the main reasons was that i just randomly picked it up from hmv one day without a clue what it was like, it was the first studio ghibli film i'd ever seen. i watched the english dubbed version, the cast was excellent.
i won't bore you with long details but the story has to be one of the most original plots ever created. the animation is so stunning and the music makes you nearly cry. princess mononoke should be put down as one of the greateset animated masterpieces ever created. simply beautiful, one that will stick in your mind for a while. :)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2005
I remember when this film came out way back when. I avoided it for years because I wasn't sure about an american funded japanese animation (being the purist that I am). Also, at the time I was more interested in the more violent animations that were available to my viewing pleasure. Now I'm all grown up and looking for a bit more substance than gratuitous violence. Seeing this film on the recent Top 100 Animations I thought I'd put my misgivings aside and have a look at this film. It certainly had what I was looking for. The animation is beautiful, the story line is engaging and it left me, as all good films should, wanting more. You can certainly see that that american funding was well spent. If you are looking for a film of the ilk of Ninja Scroll or Fist of the North Star, don't look here. It's not so much a film of good versus bad, where the bad get their come-upance, which for me made it that more real or at least more well rounded. It is a prime example of the mastery of Japanese story telling. Most people will compare this film with Spirited Away... I will not as I'm still waiting for my copy of that film to arive and also one should concider the film in itself primarily before making comparisons to other, 'simular' work.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2007
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!
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2006
I was expecting this animated cartoon to be like all the rest , frankly, pretty disapointing. I generaly like only live action films, but this is a MASTERPIECE! Its a huge shame that it can't be bought from amazon any more! (Actually, it now can, but you get the point!
Don't be put off by anything you hear. This is simply a good buy. Don't listen to anyone grumbling that this is "Cartoon; pretty rubbish". That's about what I thought, until I watched it. If you are still not sure, you should rent it.
If I could, then I would rate this 6 out of 5! Also, this fab film starts off well too, with an almost straightaway action sequesnce.
GO OUT AND BUY IT NOW - YOUR DVD RANGE WON'T BE COMPLETE WITHOUT IT!