You could say I’ve had a history of not exactly embracing “the classics”, in games and more particularly in movies. Whether these be ones I consider among the most intolerable, such as Merry Poppins or Sound of Music, or overwrought stomach churners that are within the realm of watchable, but remain empty, such as Mystic River or the Wizard of Oz.
It’s not, though, a matter of concept, but execution that relies on moral messages that remain core in cheesy dialogue with utter shells of characters there only as a means to an end. It does not have to be this way, as I have found out.
While I have never thought much of Alice in Wonderland or Romeo and Juliet, I have found the utter brilliant executions of the similar premisces in the remarkable Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Where the former rely on little more than concept to make them of value, Miyazaki has done what to many had previously seemed impossible: a movie without good versus evil. Only situations already there, and characters that in your heart of hearts you want to succeed.
Spirited Away shows in every way the true meaning of selflessness and innocence of children. As wonderfully abstract and imaginative as the world is, more incredible is the simple acts of kindness in a dark situation manage to warm the soul in the most real of ways.
Similarly and just as effectively, the land in Princess Mononoke is fairytale, but the realization of its ideals are eloquently fulfilled as a beautiful thesis as to the necessary harmony of man and nature. It’s not a matter of abandonment industry, but an understanding of the ultimate equality of life and death that links us all.
In both, there also lies the love that cannot be, without stretching, whether romantic or otherwise, serves even as an example of its truest form.
The term classic may mean many things to many people. To me, this now means Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.