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Published on March 21st, 2018 | by Faith

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Movie Review for Princess Mononoke

Written for the assignment course of Politics of Environment and Natural Resources.

Hayao Miyazaki film entitled Princess Mononoke revolves around the conflict between humans, with all its progress and development, and nature, which is marred and deprived by overwhelming human desires. The conflict is told through the journey of the life of a young fighter named Ashitaka of the Emishi tribe, a tribe in the Eastern plains that once suffered oppression and expulsion by the rulers.

At the beginning of the film, Ashitaka protects his hometown from Nago, a wild boar deity who turns into a demon from a wound from a lump of metal found in his stomach. Ashitaka manages to kill Nago but is exposed to a ‘curse’ wound, which will slowly spread throughout his body and gradually kill him. Ashitaka eventually ventured into the West to find the source of the suffering of Nago, and found a city-iron factory (Ironworks) led by a woman named Eboshi. With the power of firearms, Eboshi and his former soldiers had driven out the animals and cut down the trees in the forests and mountains where he founded the city, and are now involved in conflicts with several tribal animals, especially the wolves,

Ashitaka is involved in the conflict and realizes that Nago and his tribe are spent by Eboshi. Ashitaka then establishes a relationship with San, the werewolf woman who is part of the wolf tribe and one of the most persistent figures in trying to kill Eboshi and fight against humans. The conflict was ultimately complicated by the presence of outsiders who in the name of the Emperor wanted to kill the deer deer who was the keeper of the forests around the town of Ironworks, in order to get his head. As a result, the animals are involved in an open war with humans, and the deer deer of his head is successfully removed from his body, but not dead. In the rampage, the forests were destroyed and rotten and Ironworks disappeared, until Ashitaka and San managed to restore their heads to their bodies.

The film ends with the interim peace between man and nature. Despite ending with an optimistic tone, the end of the film still suggests a question mark on the fate of both parties in the future.

In my opinion, there are many analogies, moral meanings, and interesting things contained in the conflict explicitly shown in this film. Fundamentally, this film is a direct analogy of human life post-Industrial Revolution, where in tandem with the development of capitalism, human expansion and development grow exponentially and directly proportional to the rate of exploitation and ecological destruction. It can also be seen as an attempt to rediscover the traditional ‘eastern’ way of life (Ashitaka from the Emishi tribe of the east) with a balance of nature, contrasted with the face of expansion and the accumulation of ‘the’ ‘cosmic’ capital (represented by the iron city of Eboshi , located in the west).

In my opinion, Eboshi is a manifestation of 21st century global capitalism. At first glance, she seems to have a good heart for showing empathy for prostitutes and people affected by leprosy by giving them a job at her iron factory. However, the empathy turns out to be only part of the continuity of the production process and its factory expansion; his virtues disappear before his greed and greed to continue to expand and accumulate in order to gain wealth, without the slightest care of the ecological conditions he destroys.

It is the same with modern capitalism, which Zizek calls cultural capitalism . The analogy given by Zizek is a Starbucks cup of coffee: You seem to be tempted to buy a Starbucks cup of coffee, because in the purchase of a cup of coffee, you look as if you are defending the environment (with recyclable cups, organic coffee, etc. -other). In fact, it does not remove the fundamental contradiction that Starbucks is an icon of global capitalism, which continues to expand and accumulate, while systematically harming local coffee farmers around the world.

Capitalism also often gives the illusion of rewards to the people who actually exploit it all out, just like the leprosy sufferers who were sent sake by Eboshi for working hard. The elitist character in capitalism to always give the greatest allocation of capital to a handful of its owners is also seen in the scene of Eboshi taking Ashitaka to his private garden – the only scene showing the plants and plants in the city of Ironworks, ironically owned by Eboshi (” My garden, where none dare come “), which despite massively exploiting the natural surroundings, but apparently have a taste to enjoy the beauty of nature in private.

Another interesting thing is the deer deer’s rage when his head is removed, which destroys forests and mountains and ultimately destroys the city of Ironworks. This in my opinion represents the boomerang effect of ecological destruction, where all the human damage done to nature, will ultimately damage and threaten the human life itself (which is very clear in the crushed Ironworks scene).


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