Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#18 Princess Mononoke: No, Okkoshi! Don't turn into a demon!

1997. dir Hayao Miyazaki, starring Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka. Japanese with subtitles*.

Seen it before? No.

OK, what the HELL was that about?

Here's what I think happened. There's this kid, Ashitaka, who is a prince, and pretty good with a bow and arrow. One day, this boar-monster... thing... attacks his village. He kills it, but gets wounded in the process. The obligatory wise old woman tells him that the wound is cursed, and he should travel west for... some reason. Telling a fantasy story is tricky. A story where anything can happen at any time is not very interesting. You need to delineate the rules clearly so the audience knows what the logic of the story is and what's at stake. One trick a lot of storytellers use is to include a character like the wise old woman. This gives the audience the necessary exposition in a way that fits into the story. You know... Dumbledore, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Gandalf, that sort of thing? This old woman sucks. She's only in one scene early in the movie, and doesn't really explain anything.

So anyway, he travels west, and he eventually finds this city where they forge iron. And then there are talking wolves, and talking boars, and talking apes, and... the whole thing just goes off the rails.

The woman who runs the iron works is trying to destroy the forest so she can get more sand to make more iron, and doing so involves killing the Deer God... I guess? So she tries to do this with a shotgun. Yeah. A fucking shotgun. Hey Einstein, what part of "Deer God" don't you understand? So needless to say her plan goes horribly awry, and.. oh yeah, there's this girl who was raised by wolves. She's Princess Mononoke, but everybody calls her "San" for some reason, and what is she supposed to be the princess of anyway? Princess of the wolves? The whole thing just makes no goddamn sense whatsoever.

You know, I took a Japanese culture class in college, so theoretically I should have learned about some of the mythological underpinnings to this story (like the weird little white ghost guys who live in the woods, WTF were they?) but I guess I slept through class. This movie wasn't a total waste of time; the backgrounds and effects animations look nice, and there's a cool scene where Ashitaka shoots a samurai in the neck and his head pops off like a dandelion. but unless you're really into Anime or bizarre confusing stories, I would pass on this movie.

Position in the list: 120
Did I make up that quote in the post title? No, I swear; the whole script is like that

*NOTE: The DVD also includes a dubbed version with the voices of Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, and Gillian Anderson.

No comments:

Post a Comment