Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 animated movie Princess Mononoke is an epic saga, a fantasy adventure that follows prince Ashitaka’s journey to save his own life from the curse of the boar god. The movie revolves around the relationship between the humans who mine for iron and the forest gods that protect the forest. The clear villains throughout the movie are the humans who cut down the trees in the forest and mine the grounds for iron. They pollute and kill the gods' forest who then retaliate by killing their warriors and cows which they use for transport. The movie conveys topics of climate change and the reality of humans’ influence on nature as well as the blurred line between life and death.
The main character Ashitaka sets out on a journey to find the cure of the hatred curse that was placed on him. He travels to the east where he meets Lady Eboshi who is the leader of Iron Town and the main villain of the story. She leads the humans to mine and ruins the forests so that her town can become the richest out there. Although she is portrayed as a villain, she still has a very complex character. She cares for humans, especially the women in her town, saving them from brothels and giving them ways to fight back. Once Ashitaka learns that Lady Eboshi was the one that placed the curse on the boar god, he gets mad, which further fuels the hatred curse.
The second most important character comes into play: princess San or Mononoke comes to Irontown to kill Lady Eboshi for her acts against the spirit god. Both characters are in a way parallel to each other, narrow-minded people that want to avenge and fight for their tribe. Ashitaka saves both Eboshi and San and leaves Irontown with the princess. He meets the wise wolf god Moro and ape gods who want to eliminate humans to save their forest. He helps San and the wolf god defend the forest spirit who Lady Eboshi has a mission to kill. Yet Eboshi with her heart set in stone still cuts off the spirit's head and in the process kills both the new boar god and the wolf god. This turns the forest spirit into a life-sucking monster that kills anything it touches. By the end of the movie, San and Ashitaka who fall in love are able to return the head to the spirit and save the forest. The last scene of the movie tells us that everything is going to be okay even though Ashitaka goes back to rebuild Irontown and San stays with the wolves to protect the forest.
This movie portrayed a lot of different aspects and views on not only life or death but also the development of one's personality. Lady Eboshi progressed from a ruthless villain and dictator to helping San and Ashitaka save the forest and later rebuild Irontown. San, from an untamed narrow-minded wolf girl, became someone who could love but also distinguish the line between good and evil. Ashitaka was able to complete his mission of seeing the world with unclouded eyes and help those in need. A quote from the movie that truly explains the narrative and motive is one said by the character Osa who is a wise old man. He says “Life is suffering, it is hard, the world is cursed. But still you find reasons to keep living”. I would recommend for anyone to watch this movie not only because of the topics it explores but also because of the wonderful animation and developed characters.
About the author:
Country: North Macedonia
School: Nova International School
Juror in Giffoni Macedonia: 2022, 2021
Giffoni Experience Italy 2022
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