Features and Columns · Movies

‘Princess Mononoke’ and The Importance of Compassion

There are few people-watchers quite like Hayao Miyazaki
Princess Mononoke Eye
Studio Ghibli
By  · Published on December 16th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video on the hallmarks of Hayao Miyazaki’s directorial style, via his masterpiece Princess Mononoke.


The films of animation director Hayao Miyazaki are many things: funny, warm, touching, beautiful. But one through-line that especially distinguishes his work is that Miyazaki movies feel alive. You can always count on a Miyazaki film to feel grounded and lived-in, even when it’s as fantastical and otherworldly as Princess Mononoke.

The 1997 film is set in a mythological version of Japan where villagers and samurai exist alongside elemental spirits and caustic curses. One such curse latches on to Prince Ashitaka after he slays an infected boar god. His quest to find a cure leads him to Irontown, a settlement whose industrial ways have put them in conflict with neighboring villages and nature itself.

As the video essay below describes, Miyazaki’s habit of people-watching peppers the film with achingly human gestures, as small and specific as swirling water in a dirty bowl before filling it. Ultimately, such precise, endearing details underpin Miyazaki’s more weighty observations about human behavior. Most pointedly: our capacity for destruction.

Ultimately, we’re reminded that, despite his grumpy reputation, Miyazaki’s spot-on assessments of humanity, be they small or large, come from a place of compassion. From an unwavering love for people, in all their complexity, and in spite of all our faults.

Watch “Princess Mononoke: Writing Humanity“:

Who made this?

This video was created by Accented Cinema, a Canadian-based YouTube video essay series with a focus on foreign cinema. You can subscribe to Accented Cinema for bi-weekly uploads here. You can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).