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[Princess Mononoke mainpage]
Mononoke Hime
(Princess Mononoke)


Reviews & Articles


Reviews 1

Reviews of the Miramax English-language version -- Film: Reviews 1 through 20

1). Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times, 6 September 1999
2). David Poland - TNT's Rough Cut, 5 September 1999
3). Liam Lacey - The Globe and Mail, 10 September 1999
4). Ken Tucker - The New York Times, 12 September 1999
5). Janet Maslin - The New York Times, 27 September 1999
6). Andy Bailey - Reel.com, 28 September 1999
7). George Toshio Johnston - Rafu Shimpo, 30 September 1999
8). Sarah Kendzior - The 11th Hour Web Magazine, 19 October 1999
9). Frank Scheck - Hollywood Reporter, 14 October 1999
10). Brian Camp - Animerica Online, October 1999

11). David Ansen - Newsweek, 1 November 1999
12). Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com, 27 October 1999
13). Gemma Files - EYE (Toronto), 28 October 1999
14). Jay Carr - The Boston Globe, 29 October 1999
15). Paul Sherman - The Boston Herald, 29 October 1999
16). Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times, 29 October 1999
17). Kenneth Turan - The Los Angeles Times, 29 October 1999
18). Michael Atkinson - Mr. Showbiz, 29 October 1999
19). Alan Khamoui - USC Daily Trojan, 29 October 1999
20). Joe Morgenstern - The Wall Street Journal, 29 October 1999

Reviews 21 and higher

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1). Chicago Sun-Times

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 6, 1999, Monday

Drawing success

by Roger Ebert

The day began with one of the most wondrous films I ever hope to see. "Princess Mononoke," by the Japanese master of animation Hayao Miyazaki, is a symphony of action and images, a thrilling epic of warriors and monsters, forest creatures and magical spells, with an underlying allegory about the relationship of man and nature. [...]

This [film] transcends everything else he has done.  If the Motion Picture Academy truly does seek out the five best features of the year, then it is hard to see how it can fail to nominate this one.

(Reproduced here by permission of Roger Ebert)


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2). TNT's Rough Cut

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 5, 1999, Sunday

The Hot Button

by David Poland

The film is quite wonderful. There were moments when the anime form seemed inferior to Disney's best work. At other times, the anime seemed out of Disney's reach. [...] The animé allows for a powerful set of images that could never begin to be matched in live action.


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3). The Globe and Mail

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 10, 1999, Friday

Consider this a taste test HOT

By Rick Groen, Liam Lacey, Simon Houpt, Ray Conlogue, Deirdre Kelly, Doug Saunders, Christopher Harris, Leah McLaren and Don Irvine

(Note:  This article featured a selection of short reviews of films featured at the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival.  The reviews were divided into three categories: Hot, medium and mild.  The following short review appeared in the HOT category.)


Princess Mononoke

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)

Japan's second-biggest grossing film of all time is built on a scale so ambitious it makes North American animated features seem puny. The story of a young man who must fight giant beast demons, save himself from a horrible curse, and make peace between a warrior queen and the spirit of the forest is complex, filled with multiplying digressions. The imagery, ranging from sublime mountain-smashing power to firefly delicacy (individual waterdrops splashing on a rock) is exuberant. For its English release, the film employs the voices of Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thorton and Minnie Driver, speaking for the Japanese characters. -- L.L.


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4). The New York Times

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September 12, 1999, Sunday

Cute Characters, but No Comic Relief

By Ken Tucker

The first glimpse we get of the title character in director Hayao Miyazaki's extraordinary feature-length cartoon "Princess Mononoke" is of the teen-age, forest-dwelling princess in wolf-skin clothing clutching a knife, her mouth smeared with blood. She has just sucked the poison from a bullet lodged in the white wolf who reared her; the huge animal stands behind the young woman, and their eyes share a steady, angry, exhausted glare at the camera. Right away, an American viewer gets the message: Walt Disney and "Tarzan" this ain't. [...]

Although filled with adventure sequences and dotted with raucous humor, "Mononoke" is a serious film, an eco-fable about the balance of nature and humanity, the subjugation of women and an impossible love that can culminate only in a poignant comradeship in battle. [...]


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5). The New York Times

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 27, 1999, Monday

'Princess Mononoke': Waging a Mythic Battle to Preserve a Pristine Forest

By Janet Maslin

While watching "Princess Mononoke," a landmark feat of Japanese animation from the acknowledged master of the genre, it's very easy to understand the film's phenomenal popularity. Outdone only by "Titanic" as Japan's box-office champ, this intricate, epic fable is amazing to behold. No wonder the filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki, is acknowledged as an inspiration among his American counterparts who have reinvented animated storytelling in the post-"Little Mermaid" era.

"Not a day goes by that I do not utilize the tools learned from studying his films," John Lasseter ("Toy Story," "A Bug's Life") has said. Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft, whose "Mulan" shows strong evidence of Mr. Miyazaki's influence, are on the record with "Miyazaki is like a god to us." "Princess Mononoke," which was shown over the weekend as part of the New York Film Festival (an unusual distinction for an animated feature), explains what they mean.



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6). Reel.com

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

September 28, 1999, Tuesday

Miyazaki, God of Anime, Comes to America with Mononoke

By Andy Bailey / indieWIRE

The sage-like, white-haired man of few words that is the Japanese anime god Hayao Miyazaki creates elegant, almost Zen-like films "to please the hearts of my 10-year-old friends," as he modestly declared during a press conference in support of his latest feature, Princess Mononoke, an epic-caliber fantasia about 14th-century humans at war with animals and forest gods over diminishing natural resources. Set for release in late October after it debuts at the New York Film Festival on September 26, the allegorical Mononoke exerts such a firm hold upon your senses that you almost forget you're watching animation. You might even swear Kurosawa had risen from the grave to try his hand at anime.



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7). Rafu Shimpo

September 30, 1999, Thursday

Get Ready for 'Mononoke,' Miyazaki Madness

By George Toshio Johnston

(Reprinted by permission of the author.)

Next month, American audiences will finally be able to see the movie that captivated Japanese audiences: "Princess Mononoke" (Mononoke Hime). This is the animated cartoon that holds the record as Japan's highest- grossing domestic film (more than $150 million in box office revenue), and is second only to "Titanic" as the highest-grossing film shown in Japan. But not only will Americans get to know "Mononoke" --we will also become better acquainted with the movie's director, the acclaimed Hayao Miyazaki.

To most film buffs, Miyazaki is still a relative unknown compared to, say, Akira Kurosawa, in the universe of internationally known Japanese directors. But to students of animation, and Japanese anime in particular, the name Miyazaki is spoken with the utmost respect. Kurosawa himself paid Miyazaki a very high compliment when he listed "My Neighbor Totoro" (Tonari no Totoro) as one of his personal 100 favorite movies.

I recently had the opportunity to not only see "Mononoke," but also meet Miyazaki. Not only that, I just received a copy of Stone Bridge Press' new book, "Hayao Miyazaki Master of Japanese Animation" ($18.95, ISBN 1-880656-41-8) by Helen McCarthy. As a result, I know more about Miyazaki than I ever would have imagined!

Anyone with young children and a VCR probably has a couple of Miyazaki-directed films in their home video collection, such titles as the aforementioned "Totoro," "Kiki's Delivery Service" (Majo no Takkyubin) or "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds" (Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa). His directorial debut was 1979's feature animation "Castle of Cagliostro" (Lupin III: Cagliostro no Shiro) which was an adventure based involving the character Lupin Arsene III (Lupin Sansei).

As it turns out, "Lupin Sansei" was a very popular Japanese manga created by Monkey Punch (that's his name), later a TV cartoon in the 1970s; earlier in his career Miyazaki directed some of these episodes. It also turns out I used to watch the cartoons in reruns when I was in high school in Japan (although I wouldn't have admitted it at the time). It was one of my favorites, as it was funny, had an interesting protagonist and great supporting cast and a unique, hip style. Getting the chance to meet Miyazaki, then, made me feel quite fortunate! Anyone who has watched "Cagliostro" and John Woo's "Once a Thief" (the original Hong Kong film with Chow Yun Fat, not the Fox telefilm from a few years back) can tell immediately that Woo without a doubt copied a number of ideas from "Cagliostro."

It remains to be see how American audiences will react to "Mononoke," although it is worth noting that it was named the best film of 1997 by Japan's film academy. Years after it was shown here in theaters, "Akira" is still the benchmark of success in Japanese animation, despite its confusing storyline.

With a little luck, "Mononoke" will top "Akira" although the self-effacing Miyazaki seemed to be downbeat about its chances at meeting with success here, saying that Americans may not like the Japanese style of animation. While it's definitely not a Disney-style film, I certainly hope that Miyazaki gets a pleasant surprise and the movie gets a good reception here.

There are actually a number of factors in "Mononoke's" favor. One, it is the first theatrical fruit borne of a 1996 distribution deal between Miyazaki's production company, Studio Ghibli (pronounced jee-blee), and the Walt Disney Co., which has subsequently put it in the capable hands of its subsidiary, Miramax Films. (Part of the deal included last year's home-video only release of Miyazaki's "Kiki's Delivery Service," which was a big hit with strong word-of-mouth sales.)

Miramax has a terrific marketing team, which some believe was instrumental in having its "Shakepeare in Love" snatch the best picture Oscar from "Saving Private Ryan" earlier this year at the Academy Awards. Miramax also brought Japan's "Shall We Dance?" to America and helped make it the top-grossing Japanese film ever shown here. If Miramax can't make "Mononoke" a hit here, no one can.

Another factor in "Mononoke's" favor: good voice actors. I've seen some Japanese cartoons that have been dubbed for the American market that have apparently tried to cut corners and hire unknown actors to do the voices -- to the detriment of the overall result. In the case of "Mononoke," the voice actors include name acting talent: Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver, Billy Bob Thronton, Gillian Anderson and Jada Pinkett Smith.

The other factor is the movie itself. "Princess Mononoke" is a splendid cinematic achievement. The quality of the animation alone is worth the price of admission. It's been said that Japanese animation excels when it comes to animating objects, while American animation excels at animating people. "Mononoke" does both, handily. From its use of sound, music and color to its integration of traditional and computer animation, "Mononoke" hits a home run. The universe in which they live is an immersive and detailed as those presented in the "Star Wars" movies or "Blade Runner."

Storywise, however, some of it is hard to follow. The characters are well-defined, but the character of Prince Ashitaka (who gets more screen time that Princess Mononoke) is not as compelling as he could be, while other characters (Lady Eboshi and Jigo Boh) are ambiguous and a bit oblivious to the consequences of their actions. But it's quite possible that Miyazaki wanted it that way, in that no one is completely evil, or completely good.

Ultimately, how well or poorly "Mononoke" does here will rest on Miyazaki's shoulders, and America presents some unique challenges, not the least of which is a still-present preception that cartoons are for children only, unlike the attitude in Japan and much of Europe. Also, it's more than 2 hours in length -- for animation epecially, that's a long movie! But Miyazaki made sure that Disney is contractually bound to not edit the film, which means it will rise of fall on Miyazaki's terms.

But if there is any justice in the world, "Princess Mononoke" will find its audience, the way the success of "Rush Hour" surprised movie pundits last year. The anime community here is stronger than it has ever been and "Mononoke" is surely the most-aniticipated Japanese cartoon in years.

Next column: More on my conversation with Miyazaki and the new book, "Hayao Miyazaki Master of Japanese Animation."

Until next time, keep your eyes and ears open!


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8). The 11th Hour Web Magazine

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

October 19, 1999, Tuesday

Princess Mononoke

By Sarah Kendzior

Miramax's release of Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime) is the first attempt of a Hollywood studio to give a Japanese anime film wide theatrical promotion to an American audience, and if there is any justice in this world, they will succeed. Princess Mononoke is the ideal introduction to anime for any filmgoer whose knowledge of Japanese media is largely limited to an unhealthy obsession with Pokemon; it's also the ideal film for anyone who appreciates great storytelling, fascinating characters and an unrestrained imaginative power rarely seen in American moviemaking.


STRONG CHICK FACTOR: Despite the fact that she is voiced by the aforementioned talent-deprived Danes, San's wild girl of the forest persona is pretty damn cool. Actually, all of the female characters in Mononoke are terrific, my favorite being Minnie Driver's Lady Eboshi and the ever-cool Gillian Anderson in a cameo role as Moro the Wolf.


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9). Hollywood Reporter

The following are representative quotes only.

October 14, 1999, Thursday

Featured review: 'Princess Mononoke' (Film)

By Frank Scheck

NEW YORK -- This film from Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki is the second-highest all-time boxoffice grosser in its native country (only "Titanic" beats it), but that may be saying more about the Japanese than "Princess Mononoke."

A high-quality effort boasting beautiful animation, the film is a significant departure from the zippy, musical-based Disney style that has proven so successful in recent years, and the addition of English dubbing with well-known American performers is unlikely to propel it to similar boxoffice heights in the United States. Recently showcased at the New York Film Festival, it is due for a commercial release Oct. 29 by Miramax.



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10). Animerica Online

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

October 1999

Running with the wolves as Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke finally storms U.S. shores

By Brian Camp

After a two-year wait, the most eagerly anticipated film in the history of anime has arrived in the U.S. -Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki's epic rendition of a war between gods and men in 15th-century Japan, was presented in an English-dubbed version on 26 September at the New York Film Festival. Distributed by Miramax, the film will open on 29 October in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, before spreading to other cities. Thanks to the highly dramatic scope of the film's storyline and characterizations and its overwhelming wealth of detail and pictorial beauty, Mononoke stands a good chance of altering forever how the American audience perceives the medium of animation.



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11). Newsweek

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

November 1, 1999, Monday

'Princess' Ride - Miyazaki's magic spell

By David Ansen

"Princess Mononoke," the most successful anime film in Japanese history, breaks most of the animation rules Walt Disney lived by. Hayao Miyazaki's wondrous 14th-century tale about the never-ending battle between man and nature isn't the usual bouncy and compact 75 minutes but a leisurely (though action-packed) 2¼ hours. No animals trot out their borscht- belt routines. No one bursts into song. The handsome prince and the beautiful princess don't get married. Most remarkable of all, good and evil are not conveniently packaged in separate, clearly marked containers, but spread about equally in almost every character—man, woman, beast or god. This, you see, is the thinking kid's cartoon.


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12). Salon.com

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

October 27, 1999, Wednesday

Princess Mononoke - After the success of Disney's "Mulan," Miramax does its parent company one better

By Andrew O'Hehir

With its richly realized universe of gods and demons, its complex panoply of human characters and its poignant parable of the costs and benefits of human civilization, "Princess Mononoke" is more than a terrific animated film. It's a great work of fantasy, a classic quest narrative in the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, suffused with magic and wonder but also flavored with enough adult sadness and realism that its world brushes awfully close to ours. Maybe George Lucas would make a movie like this if he had the dramatic chops or the largeness of spirit to pull it off; next to the beauty and tragedy of "Princess Mononoke," "Star Wars: Episode I" looks like dim radiation from a dull and distant galaxy.


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13). EYE (Toronto)

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October 28, 1999, Thursday

Mononoke: Warrior Princess - Powerful Japanese anime takes first dip into North American mainstream

By Gemma Files

Fiercely misguided "heroes" and plausibly charismatic "villains" going head-to-head outside a factory staffed by emancipated brothel-girls and gun-making lepers, for the survival of a forest inhabited by gigantic talking wolves, even bigger boars and tiny woodland spirits with disconcertingly double-jointed necks.

These are the kind of alien yet entrancing images audiences of all ages will end up taking away from Japanese master animator Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke -- already hailed by Animefantastique magazine as perhaps "the best animated film ever" -- so let parents consider themselves warned. Anyone expecting a clawless cartoon fairy tale they can just dump the kids at while slipping off to see Fight Club will be sorely disappointed, especially when they find themselves having to field some rather disturbing questions about good, evil and ecology later on.


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14). The Boston Globe

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October 29, 1999, Friday

Epic 'Mononoke' simply breathtaking

By Jay Carr

Epic, mythic, simply terrific, ''Princess Mononoke'' brings a new kind of animation experience to the American moviegoing mainstream. What's novel about Hayao Miyazaki's animation isn't so much its style. Although it has its own distinct look, it's comfortingly traditional in its drawing. But American animation almost never attempts the reach Miyazaki unfurls in this medieval Japanese saga. It's teeming with action and enough characters for several stories. Yet the ultimate star is nature itself in Miyazaki's take on the twilight of the gods, the retreat of nature before the onslaught of humans, and the struggle between love and the forces of fear and hate.


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15). The Boston Herald

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

October 29, 1999, Friday

`Princess Mononoke' gets pretty monotonous

By Paul Sherman

When Disney snapped up the U.S. distribution rights to ``Princess Mononoke'' - the Japanese animated feature that was a monster hit in its homeland in 1997 - it reportedly intended to release it as a family film.

But after hiring Hollywood actors to dub in English dialogue, Disney realized this complex, 133-minute story couldn't just be shoved into malls, and gave the movie to its art-film subsidiary, Miramax.

Disney's deal with veteran Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli forbade any editing. Even considering that ``Princess Mononoke'' will be targeted to a more adult audience, its length is still a big obstacle to getting into the movie. It's a sometimes beautiful and quite lyrical movie, but stretched out over 133 minutes, such beauty and lyricism are intermittent at best.


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16). Chicago Sun-Times

The following are representative quotes only; the full text is available online at:

October 29, 1999, Friday


By Roger Ebert

I go to the movies for many reasons. Here is one of them. I want to see wondrous sights not available in the real world, in stories where myth and dreams are set free to play. Animation opens that possibility, because it is freed from gravity and the chains of the possible. Realistic films show the physical world; animation shows its essence. Animated films are not copies of "real movies," are not shadows of reality, but create a new existence in their own right. True, a lot of animation is insipid, and insulting even to the children it is made for. But great animation can make the mind sing.

Hayao Miyazaki is a great animator, and his "Princess Mononoke" is a great film. Do not allow conventional thoughts about animation to prevent you from seeing it. It tells an epic story set in medieval Japan, at the dawn of the Iron Age, when some men still lived in harmony with nature and others were trying to tame and defeat it. It is not a simplistic tale of good and evil, but the story of how humans, forest animals and nature gods all fight for their share of the new emerging order. It is one of the most visually inventive films I have ever seen.


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17). Los Angeles Times

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October 29, 1999, Friday

'Mononoke' a Haunting, Magical World of Fantasy
Writer-director Hayao Miyazaki brings a different sensibility to animation in his fairy tale that fuses lyricism with terror

By Kenneth Turan

Animated it definitely is, but "Princess Mononoke" is no Disney movie, not even close. A $150-million-grossing phenomenon in its native Japan, the most popular home-grown film in that country's history, it marries a remarkable sense of visual fantasy, both lyric and violent, with an ecology-themed story and complex characters. It's an adult fairy tale, animation as we've not experienced it before--exactly what devotees of writer- director Hayao Miyazaki have come to expect.


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18). Mr. Showbiz

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October 29, 1999, Friday

Princess Mononoke

By Michael Atkinson

The phenomenon that is Princess Mononoke is bound to be lost on the American public; as Japanese pop trash goes, it's not Pokemon any more than it is Akira. Still, in Japan only Titanic has out-grossed this wacky, vividly conceived but mundanely executed cartoon fantasy. And so Miramax shelled out for it, shuffled it around their schedule for a few years, and is now spilling it into theaters, hoping that an atrocious re-dubbing job featuring Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, and Jada Pinkett Smith will bring the unsuspecting in. We may never grasp what it is about Princess Mononoke that made it a smash in Japan, but there's no denying that an enormous amount of something or other got lost in the translation.


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19). USC Daily Trojan

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October 29, 1999, Friday

Dramatic anime finally comes to U.S.
'Princess Mononoke' is a great combination of artistry and plot that is worth seeing

By Alan Khamoui

The charm of animation lies within the fact that it can break down creative barriers set up by reality. It accomplishes the extravagant, bringing to life visions that could not be done justice in live action."Princess Mononoke" is a triumphant celebration of this unique aspect of the big screen.


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20). The Wall Street Journal

The following are representative quotes only.

October 29, 1999, Friday

(Review of "Princess Mononoke")

By Joe Morgenstern


Some of the images in "Princess Mononoke" are not just unforgettable, they're almost edible in their vibrantly colored beauty. I haven't taken in animation quite so hungrily since I was a kid watching Disney features for the first few times. "Princess Mononoke" is not, however, a Disney product, or even a film for young children. Its ecologically tinged story of forest gods besieged by human invaders in medieval times is intricate and often violent. It's a feature directed -- and in large part hand-drawn, amazingly enough -- by the Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki. After opening in Japan two years ago, it became, until "Titanic," the highest-grossing film in the nation's history. Clearly that history won't repeat itself here, but voices for the very good and appealing English-language version have been provided by, among others, Billy Bob Thornton, Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver and Gillian Anderson.

The princess herself is far from majestic; she's a wild human child who was raised by wolves and rides a mighty white wolf into bloody battle. If she's caught between two worlds, so is young Ashitaka, a would-be defender of the natural world who unwittingly brings a leprous curse upon himself by killing a boar-like protector of the forest. The movie's real majesty is conferred on its mythical creatures in all their extravagant manifestations -- the towering, scintillating forest spirit who gives and takes life, the boar's red tendrils of rage. See "Princess Mononoke" on the big screen --and treasure it later on DVD -- for the power and purity of its low-tech, high-impact art.

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Reviews 21 and higher

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