Moriarty examines PRINCESS MONONOKE (aka Mononoke Hime)
Harry here folks at large, and I'm bringing you yet another of the ancient old man's musings over a film. This time he's taking a look see at MONONOKE HIME (aka PRINCESS MONONOKE). Now we need to get this print in front of Miyazaki-expert ROBOGEEK's visual scanners for further analysis. However, given Moriarty's studies took him to the Orient to study poisons, chants and pressure point death blows... his knowledge of this area of the world is nearly unmatched. Of course Robogeek has an embossed "MADE IN JAPAN" label upon his exhaust pipe (or so I'm told) so... he's pretty well versed too. Here's Moriarty...
Hey, Head Geek...
On a recent morning at the Moriarty Labs, a delicate experiment of mine was interrupted by the sound of a scuffle just outside the door of the main operating theater. Two loud thumps, a muffled cry, and the door slid open. My trusty bodyguard Junka came strolling in, all seven and a half feet of him, not a hair out of place. Under one arm, he was holding the bruised and irritated FreeRide, one of our newer spies here at AICN.
"I told him I had something for you, and I said it was the bomb," he said, trying to gather some sense of dignity. Junka may be loyal, but no one ever accused him of being an intellectual or particularly hip. I had to bite back the laughter as he dropped FreeRide in a rumpled heap, then retreated.
As soon as he got to his feet, though, FreeRide was back to his usual jovial self. He explained to me that he had managed to dig a tunnel into Miramax's Los Angeles offices. Unlike Miramax's easily-located New York offices in the Tribeca Film Center, their Los Angeles digs are in a totally nondescript building, beyond any notice from the outside. The CIA is easier to identify by sight. As a result, FreeRide was proud just to have found the damn place, much less having breached it. Together, we planned an exploratory mission, a test to check how well his tunnel would work.
Since I ended up seeing the English-language dub of PRINCESS MONONOKE, I'd call the mission a complete success. Now I just need to figure out where they're keeping CIDER HOUSE RULES and REINDEER GAMES... but that's just me thinking aloud. Today, I already feel fortunate to have sneaked a peek at such a wonderful, unique work of art.
Before I begin to discuss my reaction to the film, I want to qualify something, just so no one attacks me in the TALK BACKS for any gaps in my knowledge: I am not an expert on Miyazaki. In fact, I've only recently discovered his work for myself. It was the American debut of KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE, a film I've enjoyed both dubbed and subtitled now, that really blew me away and convinced me I needed to know more about this amazing filmmaker. The amazing attention to detail, the gentle, lyrical nature of the storytelling, the humanity of the characterization... these were the things that made me want more.
Knowing that a full-blown theatrical release of MONONOKE HIME was in the works, and knowing it was the same team in charge who did such a great job with KIKI'S, I refused to read anything in-depth, and I have avoided seeing the Japanese import on laserdisc. Believe me, I've had plenty of opportunities, but I believe in the power of the big screen. I think there is something magic about the theater as the place you first see something. Harry didn't see RAISING ARIZONA until this year -- THIS YEAR, FER CHRISSAKES!!! -- because he wanted to see it in the theater. As a result of waiting, when the lights went down in that screening room the other day, I knew next to nothing about what I'd see. I had done only one bit of research, having looked up the meaning of the film's title.
PRINCESS MONONOKE, the American translation of MONONOKE HIME, is not actually a character's name in the film. Instead, "mononoke" refers to the spirit or essence of a thing. A person, a chair, a rock, a bird... all are mononoke. One particular usage of the word refers to the avenging spirit of a thing that has been wronged. It's this particular usage that I think makes the most sense. There is a key character in the film -- San, voiced by Claire Danes -- who has been adopted as the human daughter of the Forest gods. She rides against Lady Eboshi (Minnie Driver), willing to die to drive the humans off. She is literally the Princess of the Vengeful Spirit. Just knowing that much made my viewing of the film more enjoyable. I'll be honest... I'd heard it was a complex picture, and I was afraid I'd spend all my time just sorting it out.
Nothing could be further from the truth. From its opening shots of morning mist on a mountain range, I was hooked, pulled right in by the film's beauty and the simple, almost operatic way the story unfolds. We meet Ashitaka, a young warrior astride a great red elk named Akule. Ashitaka, voiced with real subtlety by Billy Crudup, stumbles across something at a guard tower, the beginning of a mysterious disturbance. Quickly, the situation spirals out of control, and Ashitaka is attacked by a monster, a demon, in a genuinely tense and thrilling sequence. When it threatens the village of the Emishi clan, Ashitaka's home, he is forced to kill it, revealing the beast's true form. It is a Boar-god, driven mad by whatever had changed it. During the battle, Ashitaka's arm is burned by the demon, leaving a poisonous scar on his right arm.
The Emishi have no choice according to their laws but to cast Ashitaka out in search of a cure for his slowly-spreading wound. They are a dying people, and the loss of Ashitaka is one they cannot really afford. Still, they send him on his way with his one clue, a piece of iron found in the belly of the Boar-god. It's this iron that transformed him, that filled him with anger and hatred for humans. Ashitaka sets out on what I fully expected would be a classically-structured hero's journey. I'm so used to seeing films that follow the Joseph Campbell model that it took me a while to shake my programming. Once I realized that there are no bad guys in the film, it really cast a spell on me.
Lady Eboshi's Iron Town is Ashitaka's eventual destination. It's her business, her iron mine, which is destroying the forest. It's Lady Eboshi who is literally at war with the Forest gods. It was Lady Eboshi who shot the mighty Board-god and drove him insane. Moreover, Lady Eboshi makes no apologies for her actions. She knows full well what effect her actions are having on the forest, but she believes Iron Town is worth it. The thing Miyazaki does so well is offer up a case that, in one way, Eboshi is right. The women who work her bellows are all women who were rescued from brothels. Now they're free, working incredibly hard but living real lives. Some of them are married. There's a future for them. In addition, Eboshi has made a home at Iron Town for lepers who had been cast aside by everyone else. Not only does she care for them, but she has even made a plan that may offer them a cure. It's the same possible cure she offers Ashitaka: if the head of the Spirit of the Forest is cut off, his blood will cure all sicknesses.
Ashitaka finds himself unsure what to do. On his way through the forest initially, he has a brief encounter with a mysterious girl who is accompanied by three large Wolf-gods. This is San, the Princess Mononoke, and she has no use for any human. She is driven by nothing but revenge. She is willing to even die if it means she has a shot at stopping Lady Eboshi. In one rousing sequence, San finds her way into Iron Town at night, and only Ashitaka is able to strike an uneasy peace. As a result of his efforts, he is shot, left with a wound that should destroy him.
Instead, San finds herself helping him. She takes him to a special place, the island where the Spirit of the Forest lives, a place where at least his gunshot wound will heal. As they wait for his appearance, we are treated to one of the most memorable scenes I've witnessed in any film this year. Tiny tree-spirits, the Kodama, begin to appear. They're tiny glowing beings with strange, surreal faces. Thousands of these odd little beings appear and run up into the trees. We see the surface of that great canopy of green, like a rolling ocean dotted with dozens upon dozens upon dozens of tiny luminescent dots, bobbing up and down in the wind. As they all watch, the Spirit of the Forest appears in one of his two forms, the Night Walker. This is something I have never seen before. This is something that words almost can't do justice to. This is pure, powerful cinema, poetry, like a prayer to nature offered up by Miyazaki. This is him reminding us of how mysterious and beautiful and confusing and wonderful nature can be. When Miyazaki sets the stakes this high, you would think it would be easy to be against the Lady Eboshi... but it's not.
If anything, the Forest gods are portrayed as frightening, beings of great anger and emotion. There's a haunting nocturnal argument with the Ape-gods, there's a tribe of Boar-gods out for some sort of revenge, and there's the Wolf-gods, led by the mother Moro (a wonderful vocal performance by Gillian Anderson), who raised San as their own after she was abandoned at Moro's feet by human parents. As a result, San doesn't think of herself as human, and when Ashitaka manages to connect to that human part of her, she doesn't respond by swooning like some moronic Disney heroine. She declares war on that part of herself, too. She is not interested in finding some bridge between her worlds. She has chosen a side, and she isn't interested in changing.
Ashitaka, on the other hand, can't choose a side. He is drawn to San's spirit, to her beauty both inside and out, and to that wildness. He is impressed by the life Eboshi is creating for her people. He knows how his own clan is dying and sees how hard Eboshi fights for her way of life. She's always under attack from someone; if not the Forest gods, then samurai. Ashitaka isn't even on his own side completely. The demon stain on his right hand and arm has grown tremendously, and it seems to have an unholy will. Whenever he uses it in anger, it is unstoppable, horribly accurate, beheading opponents and severing arms. He also has no control over when the arm begins to lash out.
When Miyazaki brings all these story threads together into an astonishing sustained finale, it is really awesome to behold. I cared about the fates of these characters more than I have about most of the human casts these years. Stuff like THE MUMMY, LAKE PLACID, and DEEP BLUE SEA can be campy fun if you're in the right mood, but there's no real connection you ever feel to anyone or anything. It doesn't matter in the end. Miyazaki has created a film where it matters; there is no one person you're rooting for. Instead, you are left to watch as things spin out of control. Innocents are hurt. We do not get everything we want. And in some ways, things are left unresolved. There is an ongoing struggle between man and nature that is the order of things. There is a balance that can be reached that isn't the same thing as victory or peace. It is a fight worth waging, Miyazaki seems to say, but worth waging right.
I was deeply moved by the film, and expect that it can be sold to an arthouse crowd. It just can't be marketed to children in any way. This is a film that should play to the same people who seek out pictures like STILL LIFE or THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN or even AKIRA, which did quite well playing the Nuart/Angelika circuit. This is a film that deserves to be seen by anyone who takes cinema seriously as an art. Miyazaki is not Japan's Disney, no matter how hard American journalists try to position him that way. He is fiercely original, and he is using animation to weave powerful new myths that should be allowed to resonate for audiences in every country.
I have to go now, speaking of animation, and work with Harry on our report about one of our greatest spy achievements, accomplished during a recent visit by the Big Red One to Los Angeles. Keep your eyes, peeled, kiddies... it's worth the wait. Until then...
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Aug. 22, 1999, 3:34 a.m. CST
by Albert Acisuan
What a great review. You've just laid to rest my biggest fears - that people who go in knowing nothing will understand nothing. But your summary has all the right points, except for things like the truth about Jiko-Bou, which are designed to take many viewings to catch.
Aug. 22, 1999, 3:34 a.m. CST
Why is every animated movie that's not from Disney treated like manna from Heaven? Whoops, better put on my asbestos suit in anticipation of the flames I'm about to get. Just remember who started the idea of animated movies.
Aug. 22, 1999, 3:41 a.m. CST
by Albert Acisuan
Hmm.. That's odd, I don't remember anyone falling down and worshiping Quest for Camelot or King and I, do you? ^_^ Nice point though, and I think these movies do get a boost from everyone being sick of Disney these days. Anyone remember when Miyazaki's Totoro came out here in '93? Critics ripped into it, mostly because it wasn't Disney. But that doesn't change the fact that PM and IG (and Totoro, for that matter) are damn good films.
Aug. 22, 1999, 4:58 a.m. CST
by Harry Knowles
Fleischer Studios began initial pre-production work on GULLIVER'S TRAVELS before work on SNOW WHITE began. But DISNEY had more money and a larger staff and could finish first (by a lot). Don't let the history books deceive you. Next thing you know you'll believe the Multiplane Camera and Rotoscope and Color and Sound were all invented by Disney. Harry
Aug. 22, 1999, 6:49 a.m. CST
Damn, Harry, you beat me to it! Anyway, you said your scoop was UK-related, and now Moriarty throws in that 'speaking of animation' line... what did you two go and do, get yourselves cameos in Chicken Run?
Aug. 22, 1999, 8:15 a.m. CST
by Tom Doniphon
Okay call me slow but I think I've worked out thos mysterious scoop. Harry hinted abut a Englishman first try at success in Hollywood, Moriarty adds animation, we're talking Nick Park, we're talking Aardman, we're talking Chicken Run. Send all prizes ASAP
Aug. 22, 1999, 8:18 a.m. CST
by Tom Doniphon
... missed by that much, so how was chicken run anyway, and rather than a harry/ moriarty cameo I want to see Wallace or Grommit or even cooler the penguin from Wrong Trousers
Aug. 22, 1999, 9:54 a.m. CST
So, do either of you know how the failure of Iron Giant will affect a) Brad Bird's contract with WB, or b) WB animations' future output? I would hate to see them cancel Osmosis Jones or Ray Gunn or all their other clever ideas, just as they're getting started! As for our reverence for non-Disney animation...well, through a strange coincidence, non-Disney animation has been very good lately. Antz (not as good as A Bug's Life, but still good), POE, Iron Giant. With other facinating projects on the way such as Monkey Bone and Chicken Run and, of course, Princess Mononoke. We tend to root for non-Disney animated films simply because it's unhealthy for one company to be dominating the market. Many of Disney's movies have been entertaining, but ever since Fantasia they have been more and more locked into a certain pattern and formula, and the mentality that animation must be for kids. There's nothing wrong with making animated kid's movies, but the medium *must* be allowed to grow and stretch. Animation has tons and tons of untapped potential, but a lot of it is restricted by the public's preconceptions that Disney has a trademark on animation. Well, historically speaking, Disney just happened to be the only studio that was able to survive the tumultuous birth of aniamtion. They were good, but there were many other good animation studios as well.
Aug. 22, 1999, 10:35 a.m. CST
I saw this damn Film last year in Cologne germany, don
Aug. 22, 1999, 11:54 a.m. CST
Put the clubs down, folks. The Disney-horse has been dead for some time now. It's getting tired. I can just see it: "Oooh, I'm so cool! I just said Disney sucks!," you say to yourself as you type. You people are sheep: if one person says Disney sucks, you all have to say it. For your information, Disney isn't in this business to please you, as shocking as that might sound. They're in it to make money, pure and simple, just like everybody else (yes, even those 'indies' you're always gushing about). Get over yourselves. So, the "big scoop" hints at animation. Let me guess: Harry and Moriarty think 'The Iron Giant' is a really, really, really, really, really good movie. But it must be, right? It's not Disney.
Aug. 22, 1999, 12:17 p.m. CST
IG is a kiddie retread of T2. And comparing it to E.T.? Not even close.
Aug. 22, 1999, 12:21 p.m. CST
So what are you saying? That we shouldn't complain about Disney's output because it's only there to make money? News flash: whatever Disney's motives, it's not *going* to make money if it doesn't succeed in pleasing people. "Just being in it for the money" is not a good thing. From the perspective of the movie-going public (us) there's no benefit if Disney just keeps churning out crap. Do I even have to say this? Isn't it obvious? **** Now, like I said above, I don't think Disney sucks, but things just aren't as simple as "Disney is the only good animation studio" either. A lot of the animated films released recently by Disney's competitors are very good. Some of them are very bad. But animation fans seem to have a hard time seeing past the company that made the movie. As demonstrated by The Iron Giant and Quest for Camelot, or Pocahontas and Beauty and the Beast, movies of radically varying quality can be released by the same distributor. "Brand loyalty", to either Disney or its competitors, is stupid. You have to examine the films on an individual basis. That said, if a director or animator makes one brilliant movie, it's only logical to be excited about his next one...that's why people are so enthused about Mononoke Hime, Chicken Run, and whatever Brad Bird is going to do next. It also may explain why some people resent Disney--that company tends to submerge their artist's individual styles under a blanket brand name, so it gets hard to get a lock on the quality of their projects, and a certain generic quality begins to creep in.
Aug. 22, 1999, 12:23 p.m. CST
You're right, stewdog: Iron Giant is light years better than E.T.
Aug. 22, 1999, 1:12 p.m. CST
by Cassius the Evil
If this movie is half as good as Iron Giant, which I consider one of the best movies of the friggin' decade (Gonna have to do E.T. and it in a single showing before I make a final decision on which is better), then I will be happy for days. Maybe I'll pick up some more of this guy's work... I really liked Akira (Subtitled was better, but the only really bad thing about the dubbed were the cuts and Kaneda's voice; I also have the soundtrack, which has Noh chants... I'm sorry, but Noh chants are awesome) and Project A-ko is, hell, one of those once-a-month shrine-type movies. I have yet to find anything that does more than touch the movie theater scene in that one...
Aug. 22, 1999, 3:07 p.m. CST
"Whatever Disney's motives, it's not going to make money if it doesn't succeed in pleasing people." Obviously then, Disney movies do succeed in pleasing people, since every one has been hugely profitable since 1989. And being in it for the money is NOT a bad thing! Reminder: Only after The Lion King made something like 5 bazillion dollars did other studios start making animated movies. Why? They were chasing the money, of course! Competition brings out the worst in people and the best in products. As far as the varying quality of Disney movies goes, I think the worst Disney movie can go toe-to-toe with the best of Don Bluth, Brad Bird, the Whatzisname brothers, or whoever else!
Aug. 22, 1999, 3:42 p.m. CST
I didn't say being in it for the money is a bad thing, I said JUST being in it for the money is a bad thing. Note the difference. Obviously any studio wants to make money, but without a certain amount of pride and enthusiasm for the movies themselves, you get crap. And while Disney may be fine with churning out crap and making money, it's no good for *us*. And, in the long run, it's no good for them, either. Disney was like a freight train after Lion King, then they made the horrific "Pocahontas" and their huge grosses dropped to merely respectable. They still maintain a certain level of quality, thereby guaranteeing hits, but if they let it slide any further they'll be in trouble. Already, Tarzan has proven a bit of a disappointment...it's a hit, of course, but they were predicting well over $200 million domestically, and it's fallen short of that. It's probably because the wider audience they seemed to be aiming at was turned off by their inability to get out of the "kiddie rut." As for quality...well, you're entitled to your opinion, but I don't think you have the right to criticize people's "knee-jerk" reactions *against* Disney when you're honestly suggesting that "Pocahontas" or "The Black Cauldron" is anywhere near the caliber of "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm", "Prince of Egypt", "Iron Giant", or any of the *many* non-Disney classics such as "Yellow Submarine" or "The Brave Little Toaster". Disney is a towering figure in animation, but it's not the ONLY one. Let's not let either the por- or anti-Disney factions stick to their guns so hard that they're blinded to the truth.
Aug. 22, 1999, 4:56 p.m. CST
I will admit that Iron Giant was good. But...I was led to believe that it would be a masterpiece greater than Prince of Egypt. After having seen it, I find it an insult to compare it to POE. POE does not preach to the audience like IG BLATANTLY does. POE doesn't have the vulgar potty humor that IG had (eg. the characters dropping their pants every few minutes to make a joke). Hmmm, that just sounded like what some people said about TPM's fart joke! And people still dared to call IG a masterpiece? I agree that Disney is not the only animation studio, and that the others have had their own versions of crap. But, there were animation studios before Lion King. Remember the Don Bluth films? During the 80's, American Tail and Land Before Time were bigger hits than Black Cauldron or Great Mouse Detective. With only one animated film released yet, I'd say Dreamworks is the only one who hasn't put out crap. We'll see what happens when The Road to El Dorado comes out. Anyway, getting back on topic, since this site gave me false hopes about IG and gave biased views to make the film seem better than it was, I cannot trust this site's opinions regarding this new animated film. I will not see it.
Aug. 22, 1999, 5:39 p.m. CST
I know this is a little off-topic, but does anyone know when the new "Vampire Hunter D" comes out??? The first was great - not only does it have some really brilliant artwork, but the story is one of the strongest I've seen in animated horror. Just wonderin.... Morpheus X
Aug. 22, 1999, 6 p.m. CST
I think I need to clarify what I meant by the worst of Disney and the best of the rest. Prince of Egypt made just over $100 million in the U. S. and Pocahontas made almost half again as much. So in the aggregate opinion of over 250 million people, Pocahontas was the better movie. That counts a lot more than one or two people who congregate here, IMHO.
Aug. 22, 1999, 6:15 p.m. CST
And I don't think anyone who refers to the 'Whatzisname Brothers' has ANY right to an opinion on animation.
Aug. 22, 1999, 6:24 p.m. CST
Come on, now. Saying "this movie made jillions of dollars, therefore it's good" is just silly. Do you know anyone who actually liked Pocahontas?!? Sure, people went to see it, but that doesn't mean anyone enjoyed it. The parents took their kids because it had the "Disney" sticker on it. Disney has decades of goodwill behind them, so the parents trusted them. And the kids...well, most of the kids I know thought it was boring. And kids are NOT picky viewers. When dealing with kids' movies, you have to be careful, because the ticket buyers are not the people the tickets are being bought for the sake of. Likewise, its entirely possible that if everyone had gone to see "Iron Giant" they would have loved it, but the ads were unable to get people into the theater. The thing about movies is that whether you loved them or hated them, the movie folks still get your money *beforehand*. So just because a movie makes more money than another doesn't mean people enjoyed it more.
Aug. 22, 1999, 7:11 p.m. CST
Believe it or not, I think there was more variety (if not always quality) in the '70s and early '80s BEFORE Disney became "successful" again. We had everthing from Bakshi's adult fare and HEAVY METAL to kid fare like RAGGEDY ANN AND ANDY and the PEANUTS films. Not to mention FANTASTIC PLANET, WATERSHIP DOWN, THE MOUSE AND HIS CHILD, THE SECRET OF NIMH, THE LAST UNICORN and other films. When Disney was only releasing one film every four years, no one felt obligated to slavishly imitate them.
Aug. 22, 1999, 11:27 p.m. CST
The New Vampire Hunter D is not out in Japan, even. It'll be a while yet before we see it over here. eirias, who runs an anime club at bu, and is very excited to simply see one of the best films ever made released here.
Aug. 23, 1999, 12:12 a.m. CST
by Walter Burns
...but does anyone know if this movie has a UK release scheduled? I'ts one of the films I'm most looking forwards to (this, Iron Giant and Chicken Run), but I fear that it might not make it over (Kiki didn't - neither did Totoro).
Aug. 23, 1999, 2:48 a.m. CST
Do I know anyone who actually liked Pocahontas? Go to imdb.com, and you'll find that the good reviews outnumber the bad 3-to-1! And if people only went to see it "because it had the Disney sticker on it" then what about your earlier quote that "brand loyalty to either Disney or its competitors is stupid"? So everyone in America is stupid? You're the only smart one who can judge a film on its merits? Maybe everyone should have to get your permission before buying a ticket!
Aug. 23, 1999, 9:48 a.m. CST
Well, I didn't see ET until I was in my teens. I found it instantly forgettable--not bad, I just couldn't remember a thing about it. I saw it again a year or two ago and, except for some nice atmopherics in the early scenes, I found it cloying, manipulative, and without much in the way of a point. It's not allegory, it's not a parable, it's not an exploration of character or of human foibles. It's just a sort of wish fulfillment, of the kind that was much better handled in Close Encounters. And there were so many gratuitous "Star Wars" plugs, it kinda kept yanking me out of the movie. Perhaps I had been spoiled by "Starman", which I feel is a far better (and, obviously, more adult) take on the same subject. But I really don't feel that the kids in ET act anywhere near as believable as Hogarth upon discovering their own visitor from another world. I *will* give ET credit for capturing a certain "magic"--the Godlike hand of Spielberg--but in this rare case, that's not enough to carry the movie over all its rough patches.
Aug. 23, 1999, 10:53 a.m. CST
And grunter, I am a white male in his early twenties. I don't tear up at that scene at all.
Aug. 23, 1999, 12:19 p.m. CST
Can anyone explain to me WTF (Why the Fuck) did Iron Giant make less money than the piece of garbage horse radish son of a whore Inspector Gadget movie? Maybe Iron Giant took place in a time period that may not appeal to the audience of today, but jeez, IG was supposed to get a similar reaction to ET! But those Disney ASSHOLES out-grossed Iron Giant! Geez, Secret of NIMH didn't get all that great of a crowd (besides us animation lovers), so look what's happened to Iron Giant! What's happened with our society!? Can't a general audience take intelligent films over noisy shit?! I mean, I like noisy films once in a while, but shit, no offense to anyone, but intelligent and moving films make the top grossing films of all time. Hmmmm.... Maybe IG didn't get enough word out in the public. Well, at least IG has our respect! :)
Aug. 23, 1999, 1:03 p.m. CST
Disney does not churn out *Crap*. I can sense the appetite for a broader, mature-oriented animation and don't blame you folks for that. Walter, myself, personally like animated movies with the themes geared at adults. But then again, kid-friendly films of this genre can be appreciated as well, which we can reason the fact that Aladdin and The Lion King made $200M+ and high praise. How can anyone criticize Disney for staying loyal to the so-called "Formula" and go to the extent to call their product crap. If one rant their forumla being crappy and trying to speak for the world that they are, then why did parents spend over $2.6 billion worth of tickets to see disney animation over the last decade and an additional 55 million copies of TLK video, 44M for Aladdin, and 30 or so million copies for Pocahontas sold? In perspective, other animation attempts from the other studios merely a fraction of that. Trust me, Disney and its numbers in this market doesn't stack up by accident. Parents, the arch influence of this genre, prefer Disney and its formula. No way can anyone suggest that audiences are displeased with Disney, yet. If Tarzan was a dissapointment because it wasn't opted for a higher age group, then take in question why it received one of the highest critical and audience acclaim ever and a worldwide box office gross poised at $400M north? And that is not because those "Audiences" were only families/kids either. From a recent "Fortune," it said that Disney had Tarzan targeted for baby-boomer adults with the Phil Collins influence to try and free themselves from the age-compression issue. Meanwhile, Disney still keeps their rhythm on the family-level type(of which you folks call "The Disney Formula." Again, the baby-boomer appeal, by the way is a very good attempt, does suggest that Disney is willing to take chances with their glut. Which also reminds me.... Animation does not have to appeal strictly to adults neither does it have to fantasize the kids. Recent efforts such PoE and Hunchback, though a tad of Disney's usual mold, are endorsed with some of the most mature themes ever in the history of animation. That's to distinguish the "Adult" category. And then there's the films that appeal to both adults and kids, The Iron Giant and Antz. Especially TIG, as a friend once said "Brings a sense of 50s/60s nostalgia," a unique and more sophisticated path of which I sense Disney is heading for. The formula isn't as consistent as it use to be if an anti-Disney individual here would just spend a little time to closely examine the studio's future movies. Today's animation isn't just about South Park or Prince of Egypt, it's about being entertained and especially on a visual perspective, of which most will admit Disney still outdoes them all. Factor out the money bit, every studio wants 'em. Don't get me wrong for gloating one studio, I do love recent efforts from the other studios. I just feel that there's just enough blind-bashing. For Walt sakes, Disney isn't here *Just* for the money, they always had entertain and is on a gradual change as you folks wished for. So, drop the rant, ovate the Mouse, and stop judging Disney because they're Disney, but because they put out entertainment. -W-
Aug. 23, 1999, 1:13 p.m. CST
every time theres a talkback about mononoke hime, the same things happen. the disney haters dis disney, the disney defenders dis the disney haters, people bring up the poor quality of the japanese animation they saw when they were growing up in the 70s, and then theres more disney arguing. now that iron giant is out, we have the people who didn't like it fighting with the people who did. (on that note, i can't believe anyone thinks that iron giant truly deserves to be less of a success than that inspector gadget piece of trash) at any rate, i'd like to mention that i hope they don't release it under the title "princess mononoke" as movies with "princess" in the title are bound to fail. the classic example being the princess bride. great movie, everyone loves it, but it bombed at the box office. i suggest they just stick to "mononoke hime".
Aug. 23, 1999, 3:23 p.m. CST
Uh, hello, my name is Anton, and I'm a white male in his late twenties who grew up in the suburbs (Hi Anton!)... and I saw ET in theaters- five times... and I've seen IG three times now... and IG is better. Sorry. And as for there being no scene in IG as powerful, I've got one word for ya pal: Superman.
Aug. 23, 1999, 11:05 p.m. CST
I am hoping that Mononoke begins the acceptance of Anime in American theaters and more adult animation in general. There are many great Anime works that should be more widely seen and have attention. I recently saw Perfect Blue, another Anime film that has just begun a limited run. Although the dubbing was only decent, the film itself was quite interesting and artistic and DEFINITELY NOT for children. Anyone who can see it should go see it--www.manga.com for details. The tragic thing is that there are so many past films that are so incredible that we'll never see on the screen. Anyone who can pick up such films on DVD should--Ghost in the Shell, Beautiful Dreamer and Grave of the Fireflies to name a few. Grave of the Fireflies is from Studio Ghibli, like Mononoke, but from their other director--not Miyazaki. I have been avoiding Mononoke so I can see it on the big screen, but so far my favorite Miyazaki work is Whispers of the Heart. I hope that Disney is reading this and they bring it over here--on video(DVD) at least. It is a story about creativity and artistic pursuits and growing up. Everyone should hunt down an import copy and see this film. I love it! Well, I guess that's it. I hope everyone sees Mononoke and also track down Whispers of the Heart. This is the fuzzy hobbit signing off and returning to his hole.
Aug. 25, 1999, 12:54 a.m. CST
Who will be the ultimate winner when it comes to trying to bring these types of animated features to the U.S. ??? I would have to say POKEMON will do better... I love both actually... I am huge fan of KIKI and I really loved TOTORO (So does my little two year old) and I want to see CASTLE IN THE SKY. (Does anyone know when this one will come out?) But I am also torn by my love for POKEMON! I love that "electric rat." In the end I know that POKEMON will do better... But for all of us who truly have a love for the art, we will take PM over PM any day... Now, You have to figure that one out...
Sept. 3, 1999, 8:51 p.m. CST
i liked pocahontas. i dont understand why it has gotten so much of a bad wrap. it is quite a reach from 'the formula'. i, for one, dont care and am not going to pretend to care if they did change the story around. it was only based on history. so they made her older! so they made a love affair between them! so what?! who cares? no wait, native americans...i do not understand how these changes insult them as a people. they were shown as good civilized people when in fact, they kidnapped john smith and took him on a canoe around to the other indian tribes to show him off as a freak show. the europeans also did things just as horrible but their are two sides of the story and i am impressed that disney did not just make indians good, white man bad because that would also be a mistake in the truth. baff
Aug. 29, 2006, 8:26 a.m. CST
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