Writing a post on each Miyazaki film is surely already starting to tire people out, so I’ll put my further thoughts here, where people won’t get bored reading about the same topic all over again on the Superversive site.
Okay. When I first watched “Mononoke”, I loved it. But – I thought “Spirited Away” was probably still better.
With a few hours to think about it – and, after realizing that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours – I think I was wrong. I think “Mononoke” is the best film of Miyazaki’s I’ve watched so far. I think it might be the best animated film period I’ve watched so far. I think it might be the best animated film – and one of the best movies, animated or otherwise – ever.
There are so many remarkable layers of depth to “Princess Mononoke”. It’s a movie that demands multiple viewings. The complexity and ingenuity of the film, from the stunning visuals to the brilliantly complex characters, practically overwhelms you.
After reading reviews, I think people miss what makes “Princess Mononoke” so brilliant – the aspect of the film that brings it to a whole other level, from great to transcendent. It’s not the moral complexity of the film, it’s not the stunning visuals, and it’s not the wildly imaginative creatures or complex and compelling characters.
It’s that the movie is superversive.
But it’s more than that. Let’s look at this from a more detached perspective. Imagine I’m telling you about this great book I read, but it’s no ordinary book. There are no real good guys, and no real bad guys. Everybody is fighting with everyone else for various, competing reasons, none of which are necessarily “wrong” in the traditional sense. Oh, and it’s super pro-environmentalist*
Think of that, detached from Miyazaki or the superversive movement. What are you actually thinking of?
You think of “Game of Thrones”. You think of ultra left-wing morally relativist claptrap, ridiculous environmentalist propaganda. No heroes? No villains? Ludicrous. Evil, even. Oh yeah, and the most obviously villainous person of the whole thing survives to the end and remains leader of her town.
Okay. Now imagine I told you all of that and then said “Oh yeah, by the way, it’s one of the most superversive books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It lifts up the human spirit and restores your faith in humanity. The environmentalist message? It’s remarkably intelligent and nuanced. The lack of heroes and villains? It just means that every man has the capacity to better themselves, and that there’s hope for the future.
The villain? Not only does she survive, but she sees the error of her ways and leads her people to a better future in harmony with her enemies. All of those people, all of those men and women with their terrible, glorious moral complexity – they all come to realize that there are opportunities for peace, to create a better world, and they strive to make that world come about.
And that’s REALLY why the movie is so brilliant It would have been so easy to make this brilliantly written, nihilistic garbage, or even to make it an epic tragedy (which also could have been brilliant)…but that would have been the easy way out. And Miyazaki NEVER takes the easy way out. The result is an experience that does more than amaze and dazzle you – it lifts up your soul. It’s superversive in the most powerful sense imaginable.
And THAT is why it’s one of the greatest movies ever made.
(Also, it doesn’t hurt that some of the dialogue, even in the dub, is SUPER AWESOME – “Now watch closely, everyone. I’m going to show you how to kill a god.” Lady Eboshi, let no one ever doubt how much of a badass you are.)
*It’s actually not at all environmentalist in the western sense of the word, but more accurately Shintoist, which doesn’t stop ignorant leftists from claiming the movie – incorrectly – as their own.