Movie of the week: Princess Mononoke

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I found this film by Hayao Miyazaki (1997) rather confusing, or I might have been too stupid or tired for keeping up with the plot. I’ll watch it again in the near future, hoping to get more out of it. Like in many Miyazaki films, the gods and demons are playing a big role in Princess Mononoke. The film begins with the main character Ashitaka being chased by a spaghetti monster, aka demon god. The demon god dies in the battle, but Ashitaka is left with a curse that slowly will kill him. Seeking healing for the curse, Ashitaka travels to a forest, full of little ghosts, or spirits, as well as animal gods, including giant wolves that have adopted a girl who people call Princess Mononoke.

The rest of the film involves a lot of fighting and shooting and at the end, the Forest Spirit, aka Deer God turns everything green and heals everyone. The environmental aspect seems to be an important part of the film and especially now, it should be relevant for all of us. In that sense, the film is very timely and I definitely would recommend it for everyone.

I started writing these on my blog, as I wanted to learn how to better formulate my opinions; argue why I liked a film or didn’t. This one was difficult, I liked it, but don’t think I fully understood it, but a least I admit this.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

Movie of the Week: Grave of the Fireflies

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Long time since I had time for movies, but I’m trying to get this back on track now. Based on an autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. Directed by Isao Takahata (1988), Grave of the Fireflies is based on a true story in Japan during the late WW II. Although it’s animated and most animated movies have children as their target audience, I’m not quite sure if that was the case with Grave of the Fireflies. It was hard for a grown-up to watch and if I had children, I don’t think I’d want them to see this, although the story sadly is still reality in too many places.

The film begins from the end where the teenage boy Seita starves to death at a train station and then surrounded by fireflies unites with his little sister Setsuko. It tells the story of two children from the city of Kobe that are left homeless by bombings, their mother dies and their father is serving in the navy. They move in with their aunt for a while, but end up living in a cave, where surviving is hard.

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Though the film isn’t particularly violent, the imagery of burned bodies and orphaned children was definitely uncomfortable to watch. It also served as a reminder of how it is possible to find hope and moments of happiness even in the most awful circumstances. And shows how fire and fireflies connected in a sad, yet beautiful way.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

Movie of the Week: Spirited Away (2011)

Hayao Miyazakis horror film for children (or adults alike) tells a story about a brave 10-year-old girl, Chihiro who gets lost in a ghost town alone and how she manages to escape and find her parents again. I’ve never had a thing on anime, but have become more and more interested on this special genre with fans of all ages and will definitely watch more in the future.

Much like in a dream,  most of the film takes place in a maze with all kinds of weird spirits and monsters with days and nights passing by. Chihiro manages to overcome the obstacles and with courage and kindness get even the toughest spirits on her side. This was one of the major themes of the film, as something for kids to learn from and for some of us grown ups too. Other important themes of the film are the environmental impact of humans and capitalism. The environmental damage can be seen in the scene of the stinky spirit entering the bathhouse, filled with all kind of nasty waste. Capitalism on the other hand is presented as Yubaba taking Chihiros name, thus forcing her to create new identity, as well as presenting how the other humans and spirits work hard for her.

A rather long film (125 min) but for sure, keeps the viewer entertained during the film and leaving a lot to think about afterwards.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5