My encounter with Gillian is a story for another place (namely, this place), but here I'm going to tell you about "Princess Mononoke." Actually, I don't even remember a character in the story called Mononoke. I guess I was too distracted.
The gist is, I was a bit disappointed, because I am a big fan of This Guy (I don't know his English name . . . he's the main artist and creator of several popular anime flicks such as this one); but this project did not exceed the quality of his previous works like "My Neighbor Totoro" or "Grave of the Fireflies" (most of his films are wonderful, but for your sake I suggest you visit IMDB instead of relying on my memory :) It lacked delicacy and bittersweet qualities. But, I think it is proof of this film's merit that despite the fact that Gillian was sitting only a few rows behind me, I was still held captivated by the images and sound.
The sound. The music was wonderful, alternating between the majestic, the innocent, the humorous, and the tragic. My favorite voiceover was that of Claire Dane's. True, everyone did a great job and you could sense a lot of emotion (I don't know which one was Billy Crudup--I assume it was the main character--or Jada Pinkett Smith) from each character, but I'm sorry, was it necessary to give the monk a hillbillie accent (courtesy of Billy Bob) or the Iron Fortress lady an Irish accent (from Minnie Driver, of course)? Gillian went all out, but I just couldn't get used to the fact that it was Gillian's voice behind that ferocious white wolf. Yes, the fault is all mine.
The images were simply breathtaking, and I wouldn't expect any less from this artist. They need a little softening, but I'd take this over a Disney toon any day (don't get me wrong, I loved "Mulan" :). The plot was perhaps overly complex and resolved too quickly and sloppily at the end. The dialogue was poor, and they were hitting us over the head with the "humans vs. nature" theme a bit too heavily (a recurring theme throughout all the artist's previous films). The action was exaggerated, even for a cartoon. But when I walked out of the theater, I realized that I didn't care. It didn't matter anymore that I was disappointed; because in a way, I was satisfied. It didn't matter that I sat in the second row and my neck hurts like hell, because I got the feeling I always get after watching one of this guy's films (that by the way, I don't often feel after a Disney toon): that there is beauty even in the tragic; that there is something spiritual and unexplainable in the human soul and within the depths of nature.
Rating: B+ (First viewing, 10/20/99)
*Watch for those tiny tree goblins. They are so adorable. They look like tiny white aliens