WMU News

Japanese film series opens with "Princess Mononoke"

Jan. 12, 2005

KALAMAZOO--"The fate of the world rests on the courage of one warrior" as the Japanese film series at Western Michigan University begins its spring schedule with "Princess Mononoke" Thursday, Jan. 27, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 2452 of Knauss Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

The 1997 animated film "Mononoke-hime" (USA: "Princess Mononoke") was directed by Hayao Miyazaki and is presented dubbed in English. A prince infected with a deadly disease by a possessed animal god sets out on a search to find a cure. Seeking help from another animal god, he finds himself in the middle of a battle between the animal inhabitants of the forest and an iron mining town that is exploiting and killing the forest. Leading the forest animals in the battle is a human raised by wolves, Princess Mononoke. The film's tag line is, "The fate of the world rests on the courage of one warrior."

All films in the series are shown on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in Room 2452 of Knauss Hall.

Other films in the spring series

Feb. 10--"Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko"

This 1994 animated comedy-with-a-message, which literally translates to "Heisei-Era Raccoon War Pom Poko," was never released in the United States. Written and directed by Isao Takahata, it is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. A community of raccoons desperately struggles to prevent its forest home from being destroyed by ever-expanding urban development around Tokyo.

Feb. 24--"Ringu"

This screening of the original 1998 Japanese version, is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. The film's title (USA: "The Ring") refers to the sound of a phone ringing, not the shape of a ring. The ring-shape motif is unique to the 2002 American remake, which starred Naomi Watts. In "Ringu," a mysterious video tape seems to kill anyone who views it. "Ringu" is the highest grossing horror movie in Japanese film history.

March 10--"Godzilla"

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast in this original 1954 Japanese version of the classic "Gojira" (USA: "Godzilla"), which is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

March 24--"The Seven Samurai"

Akira Kurosawa's classic 1954 Japanese version of "Shichinin no samurai" (USA: "The Seven Samurai") is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. The popular storyline of a poor village under attack by bandits and the seven unemployed mercenaries who help them defend themselves has inspired a number of imitations and remakes, including 1960's "The Magnificent Seven," which is widely considered one of the best "American westerns" of all time.

Those attending the spring films will receive complimentary LOTTE-brand chewing gums, cookies, or samples of the English versions of the popular Japanese comic book "Shukan Shonen Jump." Complimentary items are provided by the product distributors and vary from show to show.

The "Japanese Box Office Smashes" film series is sponsored by the WMU Department of History, the Haenicke Institute for International and Area Studies and WMU Japanologists.

For more information, contact Dr. Takashi Yoshida, WMU assistant professor of history, at <takashi.yoshida@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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