Romanticism is the birth of a new set of ideas; a mindset and a way of feeling it wasn’t a political movement, rather an artistic one. This movement began in Western Europe towards the end of the 18th century. Romanticism was born as a consequence of the rejection against the enlightenment: where the scientific and the Industrial Revolution began. The transition of handmade production passed to be made from machines; this includes the development of new machinery and factories such have the textile industry. Another consequence is the urbanization and the advances in the scientific field. Romanticism is the reaction of a transition to the modern world; where we leave the old to and embrace the new.
Romanticism is mostly found in different types of artistry. From writers, philosophers, artist and even musicians hopped on the movement. All of them have one thing in common; the nostalgic feeling of wanting everything how it used to be: where back then simplicity was valued.
Romanticism was a movement for people to escape the harsh reality from back then. Romanticist, by rejecting enlightenment; they refused to adhere the concept of it, reason cannot explain everything. They value emotions such as happiness, sadness, terrors, rather than logic itself. Practitioners believe that your knowledge comes from the experiences of your everyday life, Where the art of contemplation is used for critical thinking. “The subject of contemplation is gradually produced” (William Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads). Romanticist also had a deep respect for nature. They think that being one with nature can be more giving rather than studying and picking up a book. “Let nature be your teacher” (William Wordsworth, The Tables Turned). Lastly, Romanticist cherished individuality and the imagination of a person.
As Romanticism ends in the 19th century. There’s no doubt that this period in time has inspired many writers and artist. Even until now, you could see the influence of romanticism in this day and age. One of them that constantly uses this posture in his work and sparked my interest is Hayao Miyazaki.
Japanese director and company owner of Studios Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki has shown examples of interpretation of the Romantic Movement throughout his filmography. From his first film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the sky to The Wind Rises. All of them share a common theme; nature. But, out of all his film, Princess Mononoke is the prime example of romanticism in today’s work.
The Film Princess Mononoke is about prince Ashitaka after he saved his village from an angry god. Before the god died; he puts a curse on his arm. Now, Ashitaka, instructed by his elder, must go and travel to the westward to find a cure. He finds himself in Iron town, where the leader of the town, Lady Eboshi and the villagers are in a constant fight with forest spirits, gods and the daughter of the goddess Moro, San (Princess Mononoke).
Throughout the film, there are many depictions and symbolisms that show the concept and values of romanticism. For starters, the plot itself is about humans going to war with the spirits or the forest, when the ambitious Lady Eboshi and her loyal villagers use their guns against the gods of the forest. Also when the villagers take their goods or cut down their trees; the gods and spirits of the forest fight against them. Here, seeing the relationship between humans and nature. Where humans want to dissect the environment for their own selfish needs. “We murder to dissect” (William Wordsworth, The Tables turned)
In the film, Miyazaki’s hand drew scenery is very much appreciated throughout the whole movie; beautiful scenery of nature itself. He uses symbolism and colors to show the difference between a healthy forest and one touched and dissected by humans. Dark colors to show a sick forest. An example is the scene is when the villagers are crossing a path to get to their village and what you see around the characters is deforestation. When the film wants to show a healthy forest, the colors are vibrant and in a classic Miyazaki way, he ads tiny forest spirits (akudamas) to symbolize an untouched, healthy forest.
Another instance of romanticism in this movie is the over control of emotions. As I said, romanticist valued emotions rather than logic itself. Ashitaka, being cursed by a boar god that was consumed by the emotion of hatred. In addition, Ashitaka’s cursed hand has control over him because he is driven by hate. Making him, try to distract himself and feel other emotions that aren’t hate to slow down the curse from spreading in his whole body. In the movie, the goddess daughter, San is driven by the feeling of revenge and Okkoto (the blind boar god) was driven by pride. Showing how emotions controlled the characters actions.
One of the main characters, San can be considered as a representation of a person that follows the values of romanticism. San lives in the forest with the gods and knows how important nature is. She’s against Lady Eboshi’s actions which is using nature’s resources and exploiting them for her own good. This character presents nature fighting back against humans that deed out of nature. Meanwhile, Ashitaka is a character that’s being introduced to all does values and it’s new to it. Where throughout the movie he learns how to coexist with nature and at the same time learns a valuable lesson from nature itself.
Romanticism is a movement that has a deep respect for nature. They believe that the only way to learn is to live and accept nature. Princess Mononoke, in a very imaginative way, is a prime example of how humans and nature need to coexist.This film depicts the environment as a victim of the corruption of the industrialization and the ambitions of humans to control nature. Where in a classic Miyazaki way; turns nature way into an embodiment of living things such’s has spirts or goods. He makes nature a sole identity that acts and reacts like one. San, the goddess daughter, is character that symbolizes the essence of a persona that follows the romanticist spirit. With the help of Ashitaka, they founded a way where humans and nature can come together and submit to nature’s way. Just like romanticist believed, that the only way to truly learn is to give yourself to nature.
The movie “Princess Mononoke” by Hayao Miyazaki
Britannica, the Editors of Encyclopedia. “Romanticism.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 6 Dec. 2017, www.britannica.com/art/Romanticism
Worthworth, William. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. 1800
Worthworth William. The Tables Turned. The Works of William Wordsworth. England, Wordsworth Editions, 1994, pp.481-482.