Princess Mononoke

Japan 1997, 113 mins
Director: Hayao Miyazaki

What’s It About
After being cursed by a demon, young warrior Ashitaka begins a journey to search for a cure and meets a princess named San. He soon finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between animal gods and humans, which seems destined to leave neither side unscarred. This epic, fantastical tale put Studio Ghibli firmly on the international map.

Making ‘Princess Mononoke’
I want my films to be seen in a theatre. I don’t care if you watch the video 50 times; it’s nothing more than background music.’ (Hayao Miyazaki)

Hayao Miyazaki is a director who takes a very active role in reviewing every part of the entire animation process in any film that he makes. For Princess Mononoke, he personally reviewed about 80,000 frames out of the 144,000 drawings and would then redraw them with rough lines from scratch. It is this attention to detail that makes him the great director that he is, but it has also contributed to a feeling of physical and emotional exhaustion after his recent films. At the time of making Princess Mononoke, he announced that he would retire from making films. Luckily for us, he has since gone on to make Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle which will be remembered as being two of his greatest films.

The film’s colour is overwhelmingly green. Although the film uses more computer graphics than any of the previous Studio Ghibli films, the main effects are still a product of the traditional process of hand drawing and painting onto cel. The computer is mainly used for colour and can help speed up the process and allow the animators to concentrate on more detailed work.

Writer Helen McCarthy describes the film as being ‘a beautiful evocation of the dogged, determined, and wholly unconquerable persistence of life and love, an epic movie about ordinary people adrift in confusing times, with a core of power and passion rarely seen in modern works of art.’

The Characters
Ashitaka is a young prince. He acts to help his friends and people from danger and finds himself cursed. He is a skilled warrior but is also a courageous and tender-hearted person with an open, trusting nature.

Yakul is Ashitaka’s steed. He looks like he could be part antelope and part large goat.

The Wise Woman lives in Ashitaka’s village and advises him on his future and possible ways to break the curse.

San was abandoned by her parents and is raised in the forest by Moro, the wolf god and her children. She can be fierce and wild but is also brave and wise. She undergoes a massive emotional journey during the course of the film.

Lord Okkoto is a 500-year-old boar god who is injured by man-made traps in the film.

The Great Forest Spirit embodies all the power of nature. Like the landscape, he can change his appearance when night falls. By day, he looks like a deer and by night he becomes a huge shape of light and colour towering above the forest into the starry sky. He has the power to both heal and destroy.

Lady Eboshi is a tough woman who will do whatever she has to in order to achieve security for her people. She is practical, compassionate and resourceful.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
©: Nibariki TDDG
Presented by: Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network Corporation, Dentsu
Presented by/Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Chief Executive Producer: Yasuyoshi Tokuma
Executive Producers: Seiichiro Ujiie, Yutaka Narita
Producer: Toshio Suzuki
Screenplay/Story: Hayao Miyazaki
Camera Supervisor: Atsusi Okui
Special Art Effects: Yoshikazu Fukutome
Supervising Animators: Masahi Ando, Kitaro Kosaka, Yoshifumi Kondo
Editor: Takeshi Seyama
Art Direction: Nizo Yamamoto, Yoji Takeshige, Kazuo Oga, Naoya Tanaka, Satoshi Kuroda
Colour Design: Michiyo Yasuda
Music: Joe Hisaishi
Music Performance: Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra

Voice Cast
Yoji Matsuda (Ashitaka)
Kaoru Kobayashi (Jigo)
Yuko Tanaka (Lady Eboshi)
Tsunehiko Kamijo (Gonza)
Yuriko Ishida (San)
Masahiko Nishimura (Kohroku)
Sumi Shimamoto (Toki)
Akihiro Miwa (Moro)
Hisaya Morishige (Okkoto)
Mitsuko Mori (Hii-sama)

Japan 1997©
113 mins

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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