I went to the cinema last night with my brother and his girlfriend to watch “After earth.” The movie is directed by M. Night Shyamalan and the main actors are Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith. I am not going to be a spoiler and tell you everything about the movie but there is one thing that I want to say about it, and its that the movie has an important ecological message and I wanted to share it here. The movies starts talking about how we ended up destroying the planet because we ended with it’s natural resources, with the consequence of big floods, massive storms, dramatic change of temperatures, earthquakes…etc. So humans had to find other planets to live in, and they did, but they were not alone. Aliens almost ended with the existence of humans but they figured out how to kill the aliens. Aliens were blind, but fear from other species could allow them to see. When the commandant Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and the apprentice Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) are about to arrive to another planet, a meteor shower gets on their way and they cause a fatal accident and only Cypher and his son are the rest of the survivors on the ship, which crashes in a planet where during the day the temperatures are very warm and during the night everything gets frozen (extreme temperatures). Cypher found out that the planet that they were in was Earth, and it was categorized as level 1 of danger, because every specie evolved to kill humans. However, in the middle of the movie, a bird saves and dies for Kitai because he was about to get frozen at night time during his journey to go to the tale of the ship to send a rescue message. After the movie I was thinking, what if we in reality have a similar ending? what if we have to abandon Earth because we get really close to destroy it? And even if most of the species hate us there are still some that show that we can cohabit with them if we show care for them. It has an important meaning of how we were not born to create destruction and madness. I hope you guys end up watching the movie if you have not yet and share your thoughts. Thank you.
Just as with the other movies that we have watched, the very opening scene of Princess Mononoke was a foreshadowing of what was to come. The scene opens up with a view above the forest and mountains with a narrator speaking about man and beast no longer living in harmony together as they once had, causing the forest to be destroyed. The camera angle then lowers into the forest as we see some weird type of creature moving through the trees. A younger man (who we come to find out is the Prince Ashitaka) and an older man guarding the town decide this creature is a demon boar and Ashitaka chooses to try to save the town from the demon. While killing the boar, Ashitaka becomes injured and is later told that he is cursed. He has to leave the village and travel to the west in order to try to find a cure to the curse, or he will die from it.
There is a scene of Ashitaka riding through the nature where he comes to a town. He meets a monk (Jigo) who tells him that there is a place in the forest that may be able to cure him, but that it is not safe for man. Ashitaka decides to go anyway and sets out that way. We then see a scene of Lady Eboshi and her people being attacked by wolves while they are trying to work up in the mountains. One of the wolves is shot and a few of their men fall off the cliffs to their assumed death. Ashitaka then comes across two of the men who made the fall off the cliff and actually lived. He sees a girl sucking blood out of the injured wolf and asks for her help. She yells at him to go away and he goes on into the forest to get the men home.
Ashitaka gets the men back to their home, Irontown, and learns that Lady Eboshi is cutting down the forests in order to get the iron under the ground. Due to Lady Eboshi’s actions, the spirit-wolf girl (San or Princess Mononoke), attacks the village in hopes of killing Lady Eboshi. Ashitaka separates San from Lady Eboshi and leaves carrying San. On his way out of the village, Ashitaka is shot and injured, but he continues on anyway.
San is able to get Ashitaka to the magical forest where the Great Forest Spirit heals his wound, but not his curse. Soon after there is a fight between the boars and the humans and it ends in the lead boar becoming a demon. The demon boar captures San and Ashitaka, with the help of the mother wolf, saves her from the demon boar. The Great Forest Spirit causes the demon boar and the mother wolf to die. Right after, Lady Eboshi shoots the Great Forest Spirit’s head off and the spirit tries to find its head. During this time, anything the spirit touches dies. Ashitaka is able to warn the people of Irontown in time to save them, but their village is destroyed. San and Ashitaka get the Great Forest Spirit’s head from Jigo and return it to the spirit. The spirit then dies, but all the nature comes back to life. Once woken up, Ashitaka realizes his marks from the curse are fading/almost completely gone. San and Ashitaka decide to live in separate areas: San in the forest and Ashitaka helping the people of Irontown rebuild their home, but they agree to meet frequently. There is now a connection between man and nature, in which humans are no longer hurting the forest.
I must admit I was the least excited about watching Princess Mononoke out of all the movies for this class. I am not a fan of anime and I figured this would just be another one of the typical Japanese anime movies. Although the animation and some of the ideas did follow the typical anime movie, there were other aspects of the film that did not seem very anime to me. There were many characteristics of the film that were similar to that of the films we watch that are the normal “Hollywood” productions. For instance, the way the camera angles were done reminded me of a non-anime movie that one would watch. One example of this is the shots above the trees in the sky. There were several of these in this movie, just as there were scenes like this in both of the other movies that we have watched so far. There were also many scenes that displayed the beauty of the nature surrounding the film, just as there were these types of scenes in the other movies as well.
“In ancient times, the land lay covered in forests, where, from ages long past, dwelt the spirits of the gods. Back then, man and beast lived in harmony, but as time went by, most of the great forests were destroyed”. The opening lines of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke are not only a foreshadowing of what the story is to be about, but it is also a reflection of the reality of the effects of industry on nature.
Ashitaka, the main character of the story, must go on a journey to either meet his fate of death or to rid himself of the curse he has received from the demon boar. The land, which once belonged to the boar and the rest of the forest gods and demons, has now been destroyed and industrialized by humans in search of the lands’ iron resources. Once Ashitaka realizes that the leader of this Industrial Revolution, Lady Eboshi, wishes to kill the spirits and creatures of the forest, he rebels and joins forces with Princess Mononoke (San), the self-proclaimed defender of the spirits. However, not wanting anything to do with Ashitaka or humans in general, San wishes to assist the boars and other forest gods in the war against Eboshi and the rest of the Irontown villagers. Unfortunately, the blind boar, along with San, become demons at the hand of the humans. Through the power of love, and from a little help from the Forest Spirit, Ashitaka is able to save San from becoming a demon. But, love can’t save the Forest Spirit from the hands of humans. Eboshi beheads the spirit, and all hell breaks loose. The dead come back to life, and it’s up to humans to restore the chaos. Ashitaka and San return the Forest Spirit’s head, and all is restored; Irontown is destroyed and replaced by greenery, the tree spirits return, and the humans realize their faults. In the end, San agrees to protect the forest, and Ashitaka helps humans restore their home. It is a perfect agreement between humans and nature.
Princess Mononoke shows the relation between humans and nature, after the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The evil inflicted on those who have been touched by the “demons” of industry can only be restored by the beauties and love of nature. Even in today’s world, nature seems to be hard to come by; everything is either industrialized or destroyed. It is a rare beauty to find oneself in the midst of a green, serene nature. Ashitaka represents those trying to restore the bond between humans and nature. San shows how nature can restore a person, while Eboshi embodies the effects of industry on the human being. The ending of the movie, with the agreement between San and Ashitaka, show that even in today’s world there can be a healthy and loving balance between human industry and the natural environment. We just have to work for this bond, even if it means compromise.
Reading chapter 9 of Hull’s book was really interesting to me. I like when religion is brought into the topic, even if I don’t necessarily agree with everything that Hull writes (I’ve posted about this before). That being said, I thought it was interesting to read that a lot of the scientific experiments done in the early ages were performed with religious purposes in mind. People such as Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Calvin all believed that nature and universal laws showed proof of intentional design. I don’t ever remember learning this as I’ve grown up either. Everybody now-a-days is so concerned with separating religion from education (and everything else for that matter) that we aren’t even taught that there were many religious reasons for scientific experiments. We’ve gained extreme amounts of information through these scientists and just to think that we may not have gained all of this information if some of them weren’t performing them for religious reasons amazes me. I know everybody is entitled to their own religious beliefs, but I am glad these scientists shared some of the same religious views that I do.
Well, I have been thinking about this topic for the past few weeks and I realized that newspapers do not really talk about climate change or global warming. So, I am asking myself and you guys, how are people going to start getting influenced if newspapers do not really mention anything about nature on the news?
I do not know if I am wrong on this one but I have been checking The New York Times, USA TODAY, ABC news, CNN…etc and other newspapers in Spain and there is not much about climate change or things related to this topic. I just think that it is sad that society is not realizing that nature needs to be taken care of and like we have discussed we are too busy debating and doing other things.
Princess Mononoke is a movie full of creativeness, with a little bit of lack of humor, but very original. The soundtrack is amazing and very solid. The landscapes accompanied with the music in the movie creates a perfect experience. The movie might seem a little bit slow but the music and plot made it interesting.
The movie starts with a world of Gods and human beings living in the same place. One of the interesting characters that can be mentioned, like the fearsome Lady Eboshi, represents one of the good humans, who knows how to take care of her own kind. She gives work to prostitutes and the forgotten lepers, who are rejected in society. Animals are wrong too when they think that all humans are the same and that they all deserve death. Not all humans think that nature does not need to be taken care of. The director, Hayao Miyazaki, presents powerful characters with curious personalities. The film also focuses on the personalities of the characters. For example, we can mention Ashitaka, a young warrior who is trying to cure his threatening disease, but at the same time he wants peace and health for anyone who is around him.
Many have discussed that this film has an ecologist message but I think that the main theme is the coexistence of all the species in the universe. One of the good things about this movie is that is not like other movies where there is the “good guy” and the “bad guy.” Instead, in this film everyone plays a role in nature and small actions cause the perturbing of peace of other species. Nature does not have unlimited resources and that is why these actions can break the relationships among the species. Humans do not respect nature, but they do not do it because they do not know how to appreciate the beauty of it, but because they do not realize what nature can offer them.
The very beginning of Aldo Leopold’s “The Land Ethic” discusses that there is both a philosophical and an economical definition for the word ethics. Philosophically, ethics refers to “the differentiation of social from anti-social conduct” and economically, ethics refers to “the limitation of freedom of action in the struggle for existence.” When I read his philosophical definition, that seemed like the normal definition that we use for ethics when we are thinking of someone’s behavior as being acceptable or not. His economical definition reminds me of laws that are set forth that state how we are to act. To me, the laws help decide what is an acceptable behavior, which makes the philosophical and economical definitions very similar. This is why Leopold speaks that they are “one thing.” For example, take the idea of shop-lifting. Economically, there is a law against it, stating that you can be persecuted and arrested if found shop-lifting. This leads to the philosophical idea that it is bad and immoral to steal. Socially, we do not accept stealing as an honest way of accumulating belongings.
Leopold then goes on to write about the three “types” (if you want to call them that) of ethics. First there is the relationship between people, second there is the relationship between people and society, and third there is the relationship between people and the land. He says that we have already taken steps to create obligations for the first two types, but not with the third. He makes a valid point. There are tons of laws and rules that say how you should treat another person and how you should act in society, but there are not many about how to treat the land. I do think we are trying to change this, though. For example, due to our drought the city was considering giving a fine to homes that overused water. They didn’t end up doing that since we got some rain, but I think that is something that should maybe be looked at more. The fines they were originally talking about were quite steep (like over $1,000), but maybe we should have something similar that isn’t quite so costly. Sure, everyone’s water, electric, gas, etc. bills are based off of how much they use, but maybe after a certain level of usage people should be charged a higher rate that? This could cause more of an impact than the current “oh, the water bill was a little higher than normal this month” reaction. Just something to think about.