Could there be a better way to begin 2017 than with one of Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest films? Miyazaki’s environmentalist epic, Princess Mononoke, will return to theaters for two showings this January, in a co-presentation from Fathom Events and GKIDS. If you’d like to see the original Japanese version with English subtitles, January 5th is your day. But, if you’d like to see the English-language version featuring a script by none other than Neil Gaiman, it will be back in theaters on January 9th for the first time since 1999! Gaiman tweeted about the special screenings to let fans know of his involvement with the project.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, Princess Mononoke is the story of young prince, Ashitaka, who has been cursed by a mad, dying god. He must leave his village to find the source of the god’s curse, and discovers two powerful women locked in struggle. Lady Eboshi, the leader of Iron Town, sees herself as a force for civilization and progress, and wants to kill the Olds Gods so humans can gain autonomy. She has a particular grudge against the Great Forest Spirit. San, a young feral girl raised by the Wolf God, uses guerrilla tactics to disrupt Eboshi. Ashitaka finds himself caught between them, and desperately tries to broker peace while seeking a cure for his curse.
After Mononoke became the highest grossing film in Japan in 1997, Miramax decided to try giving it a big release in the US. They flew Gaiman out for a screening, and while the author expected to turn them down, he found himself entranced by the movie. “I felt I could write these people, but more important I felt I could write the gods, these giant animals, without ever going Disney.” The script then went back and forth between several authors, with Gaiman adding nuance and attempting to translate certain Japanese concepts so they could be easily grasped by Western audiences, without watering them down. This process proved as difficult as it sounds (you can read a 10th anniversary interview about it here) but the end result is a powerful film, filled with great voice acting from Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, and Gillian Anderson, so really, there’s no wrong way to go here.
And as if that wasn’t festive enough, January 5th is also Hayao Miyazaki’s birthday, so we recommend bringing cake to the theater.