Equaling the imagination of any Star Wars film is this fantasy eco-fable from Hayao Miyazaki, about a prince who tries to broker peace between protective animal gods of the forest and the human marauders who are devouring the land in the name of progress. You might expect a good vs. evil dichotomy here, but Princess Mononoke emphasizes the holistic reality of the natural world. Some of the forest gods are vengeful and obstinate, while Lady Eboshi – the arms merchant who is destroying the land – also takes prostitutes and lepers under her care. We’re all dependent on each other, the movie suggests, and such an ecosystem will only work if we allow our better natures to win. Visually, this represents a Miyazaki high point, with images you’re unlikely to forget: the eerie forest spirits whose ghostly visages rotate with little clicks; the demon boar who appears to be covered with black maggots; the lumpy, red-eyed apes. Of course, not everything is unsettling. Watching the way Miyazaki and his animators can make a misty cloud drift across the screen is nothing less than pure bliss.
Another blockbuster trilogy comes to a close