this is # 17 in the ongoing Saturday Soundtrack series
Music from the motion picture, composed by music by Joe Hisaishi, [Milan, 59:12, 32 cues]
Like most film music written to carry the mood and emotion of the film it accompanies, Hisaishi’s music for the 1997 film Princess Mononoke is varied: soft and enchanting (“The Journey to the West”), exciting, driving and forceful (“The Demon God”, one of my favorite things on this CD), haunting (“Adagio of life and Death”) and majestic (“Legend of Ashitaka”).
There is a definite Japanese sound to the music, but it’s not overt with the exception of the “The Tatara Women Work Song” and the “Princess Mononoke Theme Song” beautifully sung in Japanese by Sasha Lazard. The song translation is included in the booklet.
Don’t worry that the music here is from an anime film, that fact makes no difference in how good it is or how much it can be enjoyed.
Hisaishi’s genius is displayed in every cue, his ability to weave together the various themes of individual characters into a coherent whole that makes sense. There are avante garde elements, classical elements, tribal elements melded into a wonderful whole.
I’ve been doing several soft and touching, beautiful, lyrical soundtracks lately. This one has some of that, but it has more: it’s dramatic, forceful and strong where it needs to be in keeping with the story it underlies.
I always say good film music should be able to stand alone, and this does, it can be enjoyed without you having seen the film, but I urge you to see the film if there is any possible way to do so. It is available on DVD from most outlets including Netflix. I’d love to see a Blu-ray version. I had the good fortune to see it on the big screen and it was breathtaking. (Someone, somewhere will undoubtedly say Cameron stole from it for Avatar, but then it seems they say that about everything.)
I loved the film, and this is film music I take out often to enjoy for the drama, lift and scope of it.