Princess Mononoke, the epic Studio Ghibli tale of a young warrior, a princess raised by wolves, and a battle for the survival of the spirit of the forest, returns to American theaters this week, 20 years after its release. It's the most action-packed story from animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, whose 76th birthday is tomorrow, and it packs rich characters, painfully relevant themes, and a a powerful female protagonist into a meticulously hand-drawn 140-minute feature.
The film is being screened with subtitles on January 5—Miyazaki's birthday—and dubbed by a cast including Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Billy Bob Thornton on January 9. Tickets are available all across the country thanks to GKIDS, who also resurrected rare Studio Ghibli TV movie Ocean Waves and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away last December. "Princess Mononoke remains an undisputed animated triumph and one of the most thrilling adventures ever produced," GKIDS President Eric Beckman says. "Following the great success of Spirited Away returning to theaters, we are excited to present Princess Mononoke in a theatrical setting to fans both old and new. It's also a fitting way to celebrate Miyazaki's birthday as we remind ourselves of the cinematic gifts he has given audiences over the years."
It's worth noting, early concepts for Princess Mononoke date back to the 1970s, but its production beginning in 1994 marked a dramatic technical shift for Studio Ghibli as Miyazaki's first use of computer animation in a feature film. It required used special animation software customized by the studio, which you can now download for free. After a stalwart career overseeing a majority of hand-animated movies, last year he began working on a completely CGI short film called Boro the Caterpillar. A version of the film will be on display exclusively at the Studio Ghibli Museum, while a hand-animated feature version of the story is projected to debut in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
If seeing a piece of cinematic history isn't enough of a reason, visitors to this week's Princess Mononoke screenings will be treated to a 1995 Miyazaki-directed music video that has never been released in North America before, visualizing Japanese rock duo Chage and Aska's "On Your Mark."