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Princess Mononoke [Blu-ray]
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From the director Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of SPIRITED AWAY and PONYO, comes the masterpiece PRINCESS MONONOKE now available for the first time on Blu-ray in stunning high-definition.
The first of Miyazaki’s films to gain mainstream attention in the West, PRINCESS MONONOKE depicts the clash between the natural world and it’s old gods, and the rise of humans and the beginnings of modern civilisation. It shows three elements of the Japanese psyche warring for supremacy in an epic ecological fable of stirring mythic power. Featuring an English-language script by Neil Gaiman, author of Anansi Boys and American Gods, and vocal performances from Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Billy Crudup and Gillian Anderson, PRINCESS MONONOKE is a must-see, epic animated adventure.
Princess Mononoke 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, this epic, animated 1997 fantasy, 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 stylised 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. -- Sam Sutherland, Amazon.com
On the DVD: with an impressive widescreen aspect of 2.35:1 and a pleasant 5.1 Dolby digital sound, you cannot fault the transfer of this animation in any way. However, the special features leave a lot to be desired on what is a classic piece of modern anime. The "Behind the Scenes" feature holds no information on the making of Princess Mononoke in its original form--with no input from animator Hayao Miyazaki--and the trailer is taken from the American release of the movie (even though it calls itself an "original" theatrical trailer), complete with the annoyingly hyped-up voiceover that comes with US film trailers. The redeeming feature of this DVD is the ability to watch the anime in its original language with subtitles, a much more passionate and beautiful form--so much of the feeling and lyricism of the movie is lost with the transfer to English language and misplaced casting. After watching the original Japanese version of Princess Mononoke and reading the book you begin to wonder why the West has become such a solitary child of Disney. --Nikki Disney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Possibly the best Ghibli film, for me. It's a choice between this and the excellent Spirited away although this film is more adult and universal, I feel, in content. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Miskatonic
An excellent film, especially for those who admire the work of Miyazaki; I first saw it many years ago, and decided it was time to buy the DVD.Published 21 days ago by Tubbly Waffler
Fantastical film, lots of interesting characters and a good storyline, it's a belter, go buy it.Published 1 month ago by 70's Kid