>> THE MYTH <<

Miyazaki 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 princess-mononoke.com