Thursday, July 9, 2015

Princess Mononoke Review

I was sitting on my couch watching my brand new Blu-ray copy of Princess Mononoke and I had a thought that filled me with sadness. Hayao Miyazaki is 74 years old and, according to his own words, has retired from filmmaking. While both of these facts are not news to me or anyone else, as his age is public record and his intentions to step away from crafting animated masterpieces were announced nearly two years ago, it didn't really hit me until this revisit.

While I had seen Princess Mononoke a few times roughly a decade or so ago, it had been that long without it and thus its magic no longer resonated with me. Magic. There is no other word to describe it. I sat there in awe of this wondrous, incredible picture, seeing it through fresh eyes and an appreciation for Miyazaki and Ghibli in general that I simply did not have back then. Magic. Fucking magic.

The joy I felt as I recognized the perfection on display in front of me was met with equal parts sadness (Inside Out, anyone?) as the realization that this innovative, brilliant master of hand drawn animation was done. Finished. All we have left are memories and the films that already exist, the work that we can continue to cherish and show to new generations of budding film enthusiasts for decades to come.

Princess Mononoke is an intelligent, meticulously and beautifully animated masterclass in storytelling, using elements of a traditional period adventure drama infused with the fantasy and mysticism typically found in a Studio Ghibli creation. I was thrilled and filled with thought from the first frame to the last. As I said before, I had seen the film before but not like this. I don't remember ever being so in awe of every last detail like I was this time.

Yet despite this exuberant positive response, I am left feeling as if I am mourning a loss despite the man still being very much alive. In terms of creativity and originality and the ability to tell a beautiful, thoughtful story, if Miyazaki is indeed done, it is such a tremendous loss.

All I can do, all any of us can do, is celebrate his work, his achievements. Princess Mononoke is not only one of them, it might be the greatest thing he ever did.


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