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Film Review - Princess Mononoke Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

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Princess Mononoke


Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Distributed by Miramax Films

From the dramatic opening scenes, the Japanese animated film Princess Mononoke plunges the viewer into the mysterious relationship between Nature and humans, raising questions with no easy answers. A forest demon attacks a small village, wounding a young prince. He goes on a quest to find out what has gone wrong with the forest that it should produce demons – and discovers Iron Town.

Iron Town is ruled by an iron-willed but truly kind-hearted woman. She is determined to pursue economic growth, at whatever cost to the forest. She does it not for personal gain, but to benefit the people she has taken under her protection, most of them former prostitutes and lepers.

Her arch-nemesis is a forest princess, whose friends are the forest gods. Hate is building up on both sides: the forest gods want to attack Iron Town and destroy it before it destroys Nature, and the industrial humans want to destroy the forest for easier access to iron. The prince from the small village moves between these two warring powers, trying to make peace.

The imagery is beautiful (albeit sometimes violent), the story is complex, and the premise is intriguing. In Princess Mononoke, Nature is literally demonized by humanity, and humanity is demonized by Nature. Can peace be possible? It's well worth watching to find out.

Alan AtKisson is director of arts and culture at the Sustainability Institute and author of Believing Cassandra: an optimist looks at a pessimist's world,

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