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Princess Mononoke

Director/Writer:Hayao Miyazaki
Miramax; PG-13; 135 minutes
Voices of:Gilliam Anderson, Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton

Princess Mononoke is an epic from the revered master of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki. To his American fans, that sentence alone will send them running to the theater. The only movie that grossed more than this one in Japan was Titanic. It is a fantastic, beautifully rendered tale set in a medieval mythworld where deities walk the forests and demons have form and presence.

The Princess in question has been raised by wolves. Now she leads the fight against boar-demons whose madness seems attributable to encroaching human technologies—namely iron bullets. Magic, progress, myths, and nature all join together to sound rich chords. Those accustomed to Disney–fied animals are in for a treat: Miyazaki's visual genius lies in his twin touches of detail and understatement, and his creatures are wonderfully, startlingly alien. Cartoons with the power of Princess Mononoke are rare indeed.

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