Story, in brief
In a world dwelled by gods and demons, Prince Ashitaka saves his village from a doomed demon, but not before his right arm is fatally cursed. On the advice of the village wise, Ashitaka travels west on his red elk to find a cure and ends up in the midst of a human-nature war between the residents of Irontown and the forest creatures lead by a mysterious girl, San.
My first awe moment is when wolf-goddess Moro attacks forest pillaging denizens of Irontown. The film just attains a whole new level from that point, and never falls off its high graph. The size, scale, feel and tempo is colossal. Even as the tale gathers new characters on either side of this tussle - man, god, woman, beast, demon, spirit are deeply etched literature by the time the end credits roll.
Hand drawn animation has its rewards, every little detail has a life of its own, each character seems to be part of a vast painting, whose extent we can't perceive in one gaze. Thus a feeling of the film springing from a larger source. In other words this one is truly, epic. A word in for Joe Hisaishi's amazing theme music and judiciously used background score.
For starters, Hayao Miyazaki is an iconic Japanese animation film maker. Princess Mononoke features his extraordinary vision, iconic characters and recurrent themes of nature, industrialization, love, war, mythical animals and human greed.
No dubbing blues
The English dubbed version of this Japanese language film is thoughtfully done. As compared to strangely dubbed (Imagine fist against open palm and a single repeated keyword - "Master!") kung fu movies, there are no awkward exaggerated dubbing transitions here.
The two hour plus running time never feels a stretch, a movie I love returning to for that once-a-year-view-it-intently watch.