Name: Princess Mononoke
Released in Japan on July 12, 1997
Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Princess Mononoke appears to be a delightful foreign family flick. And based on filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s earlier blockbusters like Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro, that would be a reasonable assumption. Princess Mononoke, on the other hand, was neither hot nor innocent. The violent story of Ashitaka, an exiled prince attempting to maintain peace between warring animals and humans, was a significant departure from Miyazaki’s earlier work. When it was released in 1997, it was also his most commercially and critically successful film to date.
The film’s remarkable box office success in Japan helped it make its way to the United States, where Miyazaki was only known to ardent animation fans. Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, both of which were released four years later, have helped him build a more established worldwide reputation. Discover the film’s odd influences and secret leprosy subplots with these intriguing facts to commemorate the film’s 20th anniversary.
Hayao Miyazaki planned to retire after it was done
Hayao Miyazaki was a little burned out before he started work on Princess Mononoke. His previous film, Porco Rosso, had a difficult production and he was dissatisfied with the results. Princess Mononoke turned out to be a three-year commitment, so when it was finished, he announced his retirement. But it didn’t last long. In 2001, he returned with Spirited Away, one of his most well-received films, and went on to make four more films. In reality, all Miyazaki accomplished with this proclamation was to set the precedent for a lengthy succession of retirement ruses. Late last year, he came out of his most recent “retirement.”
He channeled his anger over the Yugoslav wars into the movie
While Miyazaki was working on Porco Rosso, the terrible breakup of Yugoslavia began, and it stayed with him when he began production on his next project. He told Empire Magazine, “The battle happened… and I learnt that mankind does not learn.” “We couldn’t go back and do another picture like Kiki’s Delivery Service after that. It seems as if children were being born into this world without blessings. How could we pretend to be joyful in front of them?” Instead, he chose to take a chance and introduce children to Ashitaka’s combat-focused environment.
He was inspired by John Ford Westerns
Miyazaki wanted his frontier community of Tatara Ba (or “Iron Town”) to look like it “could be at the edge of any wilderness” in the world, according to the film’s production notes. As a result, he turned to John Ford, one of his favorite directors. Miyazaki based Tatara Ba’s appearance and feel on classic Ford westerns like My Darling Clementine, a town full of “characters from outcast groups and downtrodden minorities who seldom, if ever, feature in Japanese films.”
The movie was only 10 percent computer generated
Despite the success of Toy Story in 1995, Miyazaki remained skeptical of CGI animation. The director told Hollywood.com, “Computers are really just an electronic pen or pencil, and I prefer regular pencils.” As a result, CGI is used in only 10% of Princess Mononoke. The film is made up almost entirely of hand-drawn cels (approximately 144,000 in total).
It broke box office records in Japan
E.T. had been the reigning champion of the Japanese box office for more than
a decade when Princess Mononoke visited cinemas. However, with a total of 18.25 billion yen (about $134 million), Miyazaki’s animated epic established a new record. Unfortunately, the film did not reign for very long. Only a few months later, the Titanic arrived, setting a new record at 18.35 billion yen ($135 million).