The Movie That Changed My Life

The Movie That Changed My Life: Sister Series to The Book That Changed My Life

Movies are alive” – Natoya Raymond

I believe that everyone has a movie they felt was life changing for them. I know I do! I was curious to hear from others so I went out and asked! Here are your friends views!!!

The first person I interviewed was Peter Hostert, an English Major with a Minor in Professional Writing

Peter, what movie was life-changing for you and explain why?

Peter: Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke is the most recent film that had a life-changing effect on me. The plot is nature-based, with a notion of preservation very prevalent within the story. Yet, Miyazaki took an approach to nature-based films I had never experienced before. Instead of playing out the nature-story trope through a dichotomy of good (nature) vs. evil (civilization/industry), Miyazaki creates an in-depth interplay between several factions all of whom have believable, and just motivations.

In this story the humans live in a town protected by a palisade. It belches smoke and fire from behind the pointy barricade and has locked gates with armed guards. While in other nature stories, this would be seen as evil, the extraction of resources from the surrounding land to forge iron ingots isn’t written this way. Instead, this industry is shown to fund stability and happiness. Women are freed from forced prostitution and the sick are given a purpose through work, being cared for within the safety of the town and its society instead of being left in the wilderness to die. The understanding of why the humans extract nature is stressed by the need to finance and support themselves against the invasions from another human faction. This faction wishes to take their iron, kill the men, and enslave the women for themselves. This unique handling of humans and their motivations within a nature movie alone was enough for me to appreciate this film and be inspired by it. Instead of making a one-dimensional, flat dichotomy of pure good vs. pure evil this film solidified my understanding of how nuanced real life is.

What specific character/characters did you resonate with within the movie, explain why?

Peter: While most of the cast in this movie possesses depth, the character Princess Mononoke had me pondering for a long time. She is the only human in the film entirely dedicated to the faction of nature. She bonds with white wolves and lives in the forest. She refers to one of the wolves as her mother and despises her own kind. Violent raids are launched by her and her wolf companions against the humans of Iron Town, killing anyone without remorse. While she never wavers in her allegiance to nature there is evident anger and a subtle sadness in her disposition. She is isolated, paranoid, and the only one of her kind where she lives.

Princess Mononoke is a well-crafted character with strengths and flaws. She is isolated and lonesome while simultaneously being a fantastic warrior and an honor-bound individual. She never questions her life though, and never sways from her decisions. This made her an intriguing character to me. These varying dynamics of sadness and confidence in her choices added much nuisance to her and the story’s commentary on the relationship between humans and nature.

While many nature stories would show Mononoke’s character as the protagonist, the ultimate good, convincing many of the key characters to join her side, this does not happen. She is seen as aggressive and dangerous by the humans and the movie shows you they are right to feel this way.

In fact, the film’s main character, Ashitaka, must work incredibly hard and put himself in danger to save the citizens of Iron Town from Mononoke. Several times Mononoke attempts to murder peaceful, kind humans in vengeful, cold blood. Ashitaka, who acts as a bridge between the people of Iron Town and Princess Mononoke eventually befriends Mononoke. Still, she refuses to live with him and acts indifferent towards him, eventually returning to the wild. This left me feeling a permanent distance from Princess Mononke.

To conclude, I liked Princess Mononoke as a character because she broke the common trope of nature stories. In these stories the character who is in tune with nature is usually an entirely benevolent being who is kind and unequivocally right. Nature at its core is cold and unthinking, purely driven by the need to survive. This film postulates that for most of humanity’s time, humans have been different to but not evil towards nature. Princess Mononoke is perfect in helping us reflect upon this different approach towards nature and its interaction with humanity.

And finally, what specific scene/line touched you the most?

A specific scene in this movie that touched me is one where the main character, Ashitaka, inserts himself between Princess Mononoke, who embodies nature, and Lady Eboshi, the leader of Iron Town, who embodies humanity. Lady Eboshi and Princess Mononoke get into a fight. Ashitaka maneuvers between them and holds the murderous Mononoke off with one hand and blocks the deadly blade from Lady Eboshi with the other before yelling out to both of them 

“There is a demon inside of you, it’s inside both of you! Look everyone! This is what hatred looks like, this is what it does when it catches hold of you!” 

A common theme for Ashitaka throughout the movie is this desperate insertion between two warring factions. Each has justified motivations to fight and survive by hurting the other side, each is right and wrong.

This scene is the most dramatic, with Ashitaka pleading to the two factions to put aside their hatred for the good of everyone. It supports the mantra that Ashitaka strives to follow, “To see with eyes unclouded by hate.”