Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
This 1997 japanese box office & video sales record-breaking Studio Ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki will be released in the USA next year by Disney (actually their Miramax division) and we’re already losing sleep with fears of how they could end up ruining what is one of the greatest animated films of all time. (NOTE: they didn't ruin the film in the translation or edit anything out -- Studio Ghibli wouldn't let them. But they did give it a VERY limited theatrical release with little or no advertising. Hopefully Ghibli's recent film Spirited Away will not get the same treatment). If this film is released stateside uncut it would probably have an R rating (or at least PG-13) for some of the violent scenes which seem in stark contrast to other Miyazaki films.
synopsis by Jareth David (from J.U.R.A.I.'s Necronomicon 1998 Anime Guide)
Mononoke Hime was to be Miyazaki’s last film before retiring, though that may have changed since his replacement Yoshifumi Kondo (director of Mimi o Sumaseba) died early this year. The animation & background art of this film are AMAZING! The story centering around the brutal clash between different cultures which cannot coexist inspires much discussion (unlike Disney’s cookie cutter ‘plots’). It doesn’t get any better than this.
Ashitaka’s village is attacked by a Tatarigami (curse god) covered in black worms/snakes which reach out like tentacles. Being touched by these will curse one with a disease which slowly eats your flesh to the bone eventually killing you. As the young prince defeats the Tatarigami, his arm is grasped by the tentacles, sealing his fate. The beast turns out to be a rampaging Boar God which was mortally wounded by a bullet. Ashitaka is sent to the East to investigate.
After saving a monk named Jiko Bou from marauding samurai, he eventually reaches Tataraba, an iron-making town ruled by the Lady Eboshi. Tataraba’s leader has taken in lepers which make her ‘guns’ and women (who escaped a worse life elsewhere) that work at the iron mill. Their fortress has been under siege by the Wolf God Moro, her 2 sons, and her ‘daughter’ San (a human girl adopted by the wolves after she was left as a sacrifice by the humans). San is known as the Mononoke Hime (‘Monster Princess’) and considers herself a wolf. The raging forest gods are at war with the humans who continue to destroy their woodland home.
Jiko Bou is involved in a plot to get the head of the forest god Shishigami which is thought to cure diseases. Ashitaka tries to be an intermediary between 2 sides who seem unwilling to compromise. It would take much more space than I have here to delve into the intricacies of the story, so I’ve stuck to the basics.
This film broke the Japanese box office record previously held by "E.T.". Until "Titanic" beat it out and a few years later "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away) beat Titanic's record.