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Facts About PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997)
The original concept for the film actually began in the 1970s with a few sketches by director Hayao Miyazaki. However, since there was such a wide gap between the initial concept and the actual production, many of the early ideas were instead used for My Neighbor Totoro.
The animation team used over 550 colors throughout the entire movie, and Miyazaki himself corrected or redrew more than 80,000 of the 144,000 animation cells.
Princess Mononoke was one of two titles proposed for the film, the other being The Legend of Ashitaka. While producer Toshio Suzuki had the final say in the name of the movie, Miyazaki has always stated that he preferred the alternate. “The Legend of Ashitaka” was instead used for the main piece of the film’s score.
Iron Town is heavily influenced by the John Ford western My Darling Clementine, which featured a town that, according to Miyazaki, is full of “characters from outcast groups and repressed minorities who rarely, if ever, appear in Japanese films.”
“Mononoke” translates to “unknown thing,” and is commonly used to refer to vengeful spirits. The word dates back to the 11th century. On the same note, “Ashitaka” means “bright tomorrow,” and “San” means “three.” It’s implied that the character is named that because she is Moro’s third cub.
Miyazaki originally planned to retire after the completion of the film, but of course returned not too long after to make Spirited Away, which was released only four years later.
Princess Mononoke was the first animated film to win Best Picture at the Japanese Academy Awards (which began in 1978), a milestone that has yet to be achieved by the Academy Awards in the U.S. (which began in 1929). The same award was given to Spirited Away in 2001.
With a runtime of 134 minutes, it is the 4th longest animated film ever, ranking behind only Final Yamoto (1983), The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (2010), and The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) - all of which were also produced in Japan.
The character of San was apparently used as inspiration by the creators of Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the character of Ahsoka Tano, taking heavy influence from her movement and fighting style.