I am going to start this out by being absolutely frank, this piece has been the hardest I have written about so far. Trying to make my way through the cluster of allegories and metaphors that is this movie felt like swimming-counter current most of the time. This was diamatetrically opposite to my experience writing my other current Ghibli essay on Porco Rosso. it is not to say that Porco is any lesser of a movie, it too had an important message; if anything it is amazing how the pacing and production of these two very different movies, fit so well with their respectivce themes. Porco too took a good amount of reflection and pondering to (try) and discern the thoughts of Miyazaki, but if putting the puzzle pieces into place felt like being gently carried away by a current. Princess Mononoke on the other hand was like sailing on stormy seas, everytime I peeled away a layer I would found another problem to address, and so on.
A good example of this was probably my time thinking about the Forest Spirit; of course much of that was thinking about its appearance, and I guess I was pretty relieved when I put in my point about its human face and chimera body referencing all members of the fauna, including humans. I was relieved to be able to put something significant about it in the essay, but upon reviewing scenes to polish off stuff I would constantly find possible ideas on what certain aspects of FS could mean. I’ll take this opportunity to put in two points that I couldn’t include in the essays :
- When the Forest Spirit is shot by Eboshi his head can be seen taking on a more deer like (animal) shape, it loses its human traits for a fraction of a second. And when it is beheaded its head becomes completely deer like. As I’ve mentionned FS is a reflect of nature itself, my thought is that it loses its shape when hurt by humans as a reflection of humanity’s rejection of nature and their place in it.
- When FS kills Moro and Okkoto I think this is probably supposed to represent the mercy of death, as Okkoto was corrupted and Moro dying. It also plays into the theme of death being a natural part of the cycle of life.
I think that it is while writing that PM essay that I became really aware of how amazing Hayao Miyazaki is. The level of detail and thought that went into this movie is extradordinary by any standard. Miyazaki is a mountain of a man and I don’t think that I even scaled a centimetre of what this movie represents. It is daunting and humbling to take on trying to explain a movie like this, even more so when its message is this urgent and important. I will not claim to be the most knowledgeable about global warming, pollution and environmental destruction, but one looked at things happening in the world and anyone could see that something has gone wrong. Miyazaki’s tale confronts us with the part that everyone plays in the problem and the role we can have in the solution.