Princess Mononoke could have hit the U.S. in a very different form.
Harvey Weinstein isn’t known for being a rational human being. Even before his sexual assault allegations, he was the textbook visual of a big Hollywood producer. He was loud, he was vulgar, and he would do whatever it took to get what he wanted. There are countless stories surrounding the man losing his temper. So it’s no surprise that there’s a particularly juicy story involving Princess Mononoke.
For those unfamiliar, Princess Mononoke is one of the many iconic animated films from Studio Ghibli. It’s also notable because it did not feature any cuts to the story. American anime fans are more than familiar with the common trend in the decades prior to the 2000s when studios would butcher shows or films in order to skew to a younger demographic. Either that or cut out culturally confusing aspects that would leave kids shaking their heads.
It’s for that reason that Weinstein apparently really wanted to make heavy changes to Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. This news comes courtesy of author Steve Alpert, who spent 15 years at Studio Ghibli. He wrote a new tell-all called Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man. In a passage, he sheds light on the tale.
“Weinstein’s Miramax, then a Disney subsidiary, was the film’s U.S. distributor. At the premiere, Weinstein told Alpert that he wanted to cut the film from 135 to 90 minutes, despite having promised not to do so. When Alpert said that Miyazaki wouldn’t agree, Weinstein flew into a rage: ‘If you don’t get him to cut the fucking film you will NEVER WORK IN THIS F**KING INDUSTRY AGAIN! DO YOU F**KING UNDERSTAND ME?!! NEVER!!’ Ghibli resisted and the film was released uncut.”
This is actually kind of a cool story for many Studio Ghibli fans. If you’re well-read on their history, you may have heard the second half of this story. In fact, it’s one of those oft-brought-up stories that I always roll my eyes at because of how frequently it’s brought up.
According to the animation myth, Miyazaki sent a katana to Weinstein with a note attached that said “no cuts.” This was quite the badass statement on Miyazaki’s behalf, and it may seem extreme to many out of context. But considering what American studios did to his first original feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, it was understandable. Back in the mid-80s, when that film made it stateside, it was unrecognizable. The film was 22 minutes shorter, was called Warriors of the Wind, and featured advertising full of non-characters being shown off prominently. The latter deal was an attempt to make it appeal more to boys, because the common thought was that boys didn’t like female protagonists.
It is this butchering of Nausicaa that often serves as the motivation for the katana. However, based on this new information, it sounds like it was a direct response to the prodding to cut down Princess Mononoke.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Princess Mononoke, I am happy Miyazaki stuck to his guns. The film has since made its impact on the industry and served as a gateway for many into the world of Japanese animation. How do you feel about Princess Mononoke as a movie? Let us know your thoughts down below!
Continue the LRM Online conversation on Discord by CLICKING HERE!
Have you checked out LRM Online’s official podcast feed yet The LRM Online Podcast Network? This includes our flagship podcast Los Fanboys, our premiere podcast Breaking Geek Radio: The Podcast, GeekScholars Movie News, and our morning show LRMornings. Check it out by listening below. It’s also available on all your favorite podcast apps!
SOURCE: Cartoon Brew