100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Princess Mononoke”

Princess Mononoke is a 1997 Japanese animated film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film was a box office smash in Japan and made over 159 million dollars upon release. The film was also released in the United States several years later but it did not have nearly as much success at the box office with returns of only 2.3 million dollars. The film was largely well received by critics and can be found on a number of “best of” lists. The biggest accolade for the film was winning “Best Picture” in the Japan Academy Prize as it was the first animated feature to ever win that award. So does this very successful animated film deserve to be counted among the greats and wear the label classic? Read on…

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 Should this film be considered a classic? Can I be blunt? No. First, let me say what I liked. I thought the animation was beautiful with some absolutely stunning moments. The western actors and actresses who did the voices for the dubbed version were also very solid with only a handful of weak moments. Parts of the story were touching, humorous, and entertaining. That said, the pacing was arduous and the story as a whole was very convoluted. The film desperately needed to have about 20-30 minutes shaved from it. As it dragged into the second hour I was wondering when it would end. I know this film is meant to represent an offering from international animation but surely there are better films. I’ve heard from several people who say Miyazaki himself has stronger works (Howl’s Moving Castle was oft mentioned) that would have made far better inclusions on this list.

 Would I own this film? No. This film was boring. Not even beautiful animation can save an overly long and self important film.

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4 thoughts on “100 Movies to See Before You Die- “Princess Mononoke”

  1. How’s Moving Castle is definitely a better film. Though I do enjoy Princess Mononoke as well… and own both. Two of the only dozen or so anmie films I do own. Voices From a Distant Star is by far the most beautifully animated film I’ve ever seen. I’d recommend checking it out at some point if you haven’t already.

  2. This article is dumb on all fronts. Howl’s Moving Castle is not a better film, anyone who says so is a trivial fool of no relevance who just wants to be included. They all have their pros and cons, but Howl’s Moving Castle is probably the less important film. (And nobody who dislikes Mononoke will appreciate Howl’s Moving Castle, unless they are a fan of more conventional Anime.) Moreover there most definitely are no better international animation movies. At most, there are others on par, but again, different. This is also pretty much consensual among critics and professionals. If you can’t appreciate this movie, I would say you probably can’t appreciate a lot of what makes a lot of movies and storytelling (of this kind) special to begin with.

    1. To each their own. Watching movies is very subjective. Having watched the majority of movies on the Yahoo list I’ve found I agree with the popular consensus most of the time. That said, I don’t always “enjoy” a film considered a classic and sometimes I simply disagree with the consensus as was the case with this film. For me it was not the style of the film that put me off but rather the story. I’m glad you can enjoy this film. I just can’t. Don’t feel like you need to defend the film just because I don’t like it. Most people agree with you that it is an animated classic. I’m just a guy who watched it and who happened to not like it. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment and engage in conversation!

  3. Key word: self-importance. Others regard it as beautiful and honest (not the “message” but the experience itself, which therefore doesn’t have to be “made up” for, in the opposite). I suspect Western-centric preference of what is allowed to be “important” or maybe other subjective reasons.

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