Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Princess Mononoke, a Japanese environmental heroe

YeGeun, YAC's senior youth chair, introduced Mrs. Zesiger and I to the Japanese and Korean environmental children's heroe, "Princess Mononoke." YeGeun said: "I've found a good Japanese animation about the environment.The DVD is called 'Princess Mononoke', or 'Ghost Princess' in English.Well, 'Mononoke' actually means something different than just 'ghost', but I don't know how to explain it; just think it's an Asian ghost. It's made by a famous Japanese animation director; he's very famous even in America. If you go to the website below, you will find more information on this DVD. This DVD also shows some traditional aspects of Japanese culture, which is even better. Basically, this animation talks about how we, humans, destroy the environment with all the technologies we have, and also by killing animals with advanced weapons to expand territories for ourselves. It has a great story, and I think this will draw poeple since it's something very uniqueand new. I think it's a little bit expensive, but it is surely worth to buy.This movie was a big hit in Japan, Korea, and also in America. I don't know when it was released in American theaters, but you know how it is in Oklahoma.

About the author and the story of Princess Mononoke: Miyazaki, the author of Princess Mononoke, combines the stark realism and action-packed pace of Japanese samurai epics; a cast of equally strong male and female characters fighting for what they believe; and a mystical journey through animist mythology into something rarely experienced in filmmaking: a wholly original world of complex, adult drama forged through animation. Miyazaki put his targeted audience for PRINCESS MONONOKE at “anyone older than 5th grade.” Still, he painted his world with a truthful brush, revealing with frank details the brutality of war and intense hatred between peoples.A great fan of John Ford, Miyazaki pays tribute to the American legend with his creation of a tight-knit frontier town , Tatara Ba or Iron Town, which could be at the edge of any wilderness, whether American or Japanese – a town that resembles those of such classics as “My Darling Clementine.” He peopled this town with characters from outcast groups and oppressed minorities who rarely, if ever, appear in Japanese films. And he made them yearning, ambitious and tough, embodying many of the same qualities which have been valued so highly in frontier life yet have been so devastating to the environment.Drawing from Japanese folklore, as well as from his own fertile imagination, Miyazaki then forged his own pantheon of gods and forest creatures. Some of his creatures, such as the wood sprites known as the Kodamas, were inspired by ancient Japanese tales. Others emerge from world literature, such as Princess Mononoke, a wolf-raised young woman reverted to primal ways whose antecedents can be found in such Western sources as the Greek Romulus and Remus, Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim” and Francois Truffaut’s “The Wild Child.” The Princess Mononoke is the singular character who has empathy for the both the humans and the animals – her fate is to be the conduit between these two increasingly disparate worlds.Rarely in films does the natural world get a chance to tell its side of the tale, but in PRINCESS MONONOKE, Miyazaki gives animals and the very spirit of the forest a passionate voice. Nature is not just an object in Miyazaki’s film but a shimmering, breathing world that comes to life in the forms of great, eloquent beasts.Miyazaki’s intent was never to create an accurate portrait of medieval Japan. Rather he wanted to portray the very beginnings of the seemingly insoluble conflict between the natural world and modern industrial civilization – a conflict that has continued to this very day. Throughout, Miyazaki resists forging simple villains or stainless heroes. The human polluters are not so much evil as merely attempting to survive in a world that has pushed them to the edge. San and the forest gods are not entirely noble, either; their long, losing battle with humans has hardened their hearts, sharpened their anger and divided their own ranks. Yet in the interaction between the two – however hard won – something magical occurs.Info by

PG 13. The kids older than 13 could view Princess Mononoke films:
In today's marketplace, an animated movie will not generate business unless the name "Disney" is attached to it. In cases like The Quest For Camelot, it is a good thing. However, when worthwhile movies like Anastasia or Iron Giant come out, it is very disappointing to see them quickly disappear. Things are vastly different in Japan, where anime reigns supreme. Anime (Japanimation) is the style prevalent in Japanese cartoons. Unlike Disney movies, anime movies may not necessarily be targeted towards kids. There is much violence, and sometimes, nudity and sex. There is no stigma about cartoons being for children only, which allows for complex stories and well thought out characterizations. The large eyes, which many people dislike, are used to better convey emotion. And no one does anime better than Hayao Miyazaki, the revered Japanese animator responsible for Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro. Miyazaki has an imagination that knows no bounds, as is evident in Princess Mononoke. This film was so popular in Japan that the only film to outgross it thus far is been Titanic. Now, American audiences get the chance to see this wondrous film, with the voices of Gillian Anderson, Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, Jada Pinkett Smith, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, and others.Princess Mononoke takes place in fourteenth century Japan, a time of unrest. Ashitaka (Crudup, Without Limits, The Hi Lo Country) is a young prince who becomes cursed after killing a mad forest god. The curse leads him to backtrack the god's movements to try to discover why the god went mad. He comes across an industrializing town known as Iron Town. Lady Eboshi (Driver, An Ideal Husband, The Governess) is the leader of Iron Town. She is slowly destroying the forest to expand her town. The iron her town produces is extremely profitable, and the surrounding newly deforested lands also experience an escalation in value. Eboshi has no place for the forest gods; to her, they are obsolete figures. Man is who will reign supreme. Her goal is to kill the Great Forest Spirit with her iron shooting rifles, the god responsible for all life and death in the forest. Opposing Eboshi is San (Danes, The Mod Squad, Brokedown Palace), also known as Princess Mononoke. San was raised by wolves, and considers herself a wolf. She hates the humans than their blatant disregard for the nature around them. Ashitaka's main goal is to seek the Great Forest Spirit and ask him to take his curse away. He stumbles into the conflict between Eboshi and Mononoke, and becomes caught in the middle. He wants to side with San, because he also believes that the forest should be preserved. But then he feels sorry for the people of Iron Town, who are mostly lepers and women saved from brothels. Eboshi saved them and now is the only one who treats them as humans.This is definitely not a cartoon for little kids. Miyazaki weaves in ideas about environmental conversation with intense battle scenes, and thematically serious subjects. Miramax film selected a great film to introduce sophisticated moviegoers to the world of anime, and apparently they are also actually trying to advertise towards an older demographic. Here is an animated picture that can be enjoyed as a serious work, not as a silly song filled adventure (though nothing is wrong with that). The line between good and bad is blurred here, the obvious bad guys do not seem quite as bad after looking at the big picture. Ashitaka must struggle to do what he thinks is right in light of everything happening around him. Mirimax tapped Neil Gaiman, writer of Stardust and DC's Sandman comics to pen the translation. Gaiman, the first comic book writer to win a literary award, is well renowned for his own ability to inject magic and mysticism into a story. Gaiman took the script and faithfully translated it into English while changing Japanese references that would make no sense in America. The only thing that could have made this wonderful film better is if it was released in its true glory. Dubbing just takes something away from the film. You have this nagging feeling that something is missing.But that should not prevent you from going to see this movie. It is truly a wondrous spectacle, full of beautiful imagery possible only by someone with limitless imagination. Everything from the little Komoda, the spirits of the forest, to the majestic transformation of the Night Walker. The world that Miyazaki created is an amazing place, caught between the opposing worlds of magic and science. The forest gods are not cute talking animals, they are large and fierce, while retaining a sense of nobility. Princess Mononoke is definitely something unique, and is well worth a screening.Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.2 hours, 15 minutes, Rated PG-13 for images of violence and gore.

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