Right from its slam-bang opening when a horrendous monster, part-boar, part-spider, covered in huge writhing worms, attacks a small village, Princess Mononoke is the fiercest and most scary of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterly animations.
It’s set in ancient Japan at a time when humans, animals and forest gods were all contending for supremacy and, borrowing hints from Wagnerian opera, sends a wounded prince on a mission to have his curse lifted. Woodsprites, samurai warriors and shape-changing wolves also feature, along with the feral princess of the title.
As always with Studio Ghibli, there’s an underlying ecological message – and it’s visually breathtaking.
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