BEYOND CLUELESS|Dir: Charlie Lyne

‘Beyond Clueless’ Q&A w/ director Charlie Lyne at the Prince Charles Cinema!

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I missed the first screening in London, continued to see it showing at various film festivals across the globe. Waiting for it to come back to London for even the UK. Alas PCC promoted tickets for a Q&A with the director along with the film. It only took 5 months to watch it.

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Miyazaki Month: Princess Mononoke

Written by Myrna Waldron.You will find few well-known directors as overtly feminist as Hayao Miyazaki. Of the 10 films he has directed, only two, The Castle of Cagliostro & Porco Rosso, have male protagonists. The others have dual male and female protagonists (Castle In The SkyPrincess MononokeHowl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo) or female protagonists (NausicaaMy Neighbour TotoroKiki’s Delivery ServiceSpirited Away). And not only are many of the main characters in his films female, they are also well rounded, realistically flawed, and given a great deal of agency in their stories. When I think of the Strong Female Character feminist media critics are always hoping for, I think of Miyazaki’s characters first.

For the month of May, I will be writing about 4 films directed by Hayao Miyazaki: Princess MononokeSpirited AwayHowl’s Moving Castle and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. The first three are my personal favourites of his work, and it will be my first time watching Nausicaa. It is my plan not only to discuss feminist aspects of the films, but also to discuss other themes/messages present in Miyazaki’s work (environmentalism and pacifism most commonly) and to compare the Disney/Miramax English dubs of the films to the original Japanese dialogue.

The Deer God gives life and takes life away
Princess Mononoke was the first Hayao Miyazaki film I watched. It came out a couple of years after Sailor Moon had introduced me to anime, and all of my nerdy peers were excited about the film because it was by this great, talented animator, and in Japan the film was even more popular than Titanic. It was refreshing for me to watch an animated film with complex themes, moral ambiguities and some decidedly un-kid friendly violence. I was already fascinated by animation, and Princess Mononoke showed me just how broad a medium it could be.

Kickass feminists on film: princess mononoke

Everyone knows that complex and empowering female characters are difficult to find in mainstream films. But there are some who have stood out and become the changing faces of feminism in cinema. In this monthly column, Jade Bate looks at her favourite film heroines who are strong, empowering and kick ass.

Princess Mononoke

Last month I learned the heartbreaking news that my beloved Studio Ghibli was shutting down indefinitely. The legendary Japanese animation studio, founded by the incredible Hayao Miyazaki, has produced some of the greatest films of all time. Their movies enable audiences both young and old to be transported to fantasy lands that fuel the imagination with tales of  extraordinary adventures.

Studio Ghibli’s films are cherished by audiences for offering strong, realistic heroines. Ghibli films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s  Special Delivery Service all feature female protagonists. In comparison to Western animation houses like Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks, Ghibli’s long-standing focus on female characters is truly revolutionary. Disney heroines have only recently come into their own, with films like Brave and Frozen shifting the focus away from romantic love. Ghibli’s heroines are more concerned about saving the world than singing about their woes. Spirited Away, Howl’s and Kiki are all incredible Studio Ghibli films with extraordinary female leads, but it is Miyazaki’s 1997 film Princess Mononoke that is perhaps the most female-empowering piece of cinema in the studio’s repertoire.

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