The Miyazaki classic, Princess Mononoke, focuses on Ashitaka kills a demon, but is touched by it before and thus infected with a spirit that gives him tremendous powers. Being from a village, Ashitaka heads west to find a cure. On his journey, he encounters wars primarily caused by the greed on industrial societies. The most obvious theme in the film is harmony with the environment. Most of the conflict in the story is caused by the man refusing to respect nature, and instead exhausting beautiful landscapes for their resources.
This incredible story uses a mythical story strucutre to restore humanity's relationship with nature. In my classroom, I can use these elements to teach my high school students how filmmakers use myths to communicate greater truths. The lesson will focus on the main character and his story arc. Ashitake is a strong man who is able to use violence effectively to solve his problems. However, Ashitaka learns that he cannot use violence to solve every problem. In fact, he learns that violence leads to more problems. By having my students track the development of Ashitaka, they will come to the conclusion that Ashitaka succeeds when he learns not to fight nature, but live in harmony with it. From this character analysis, my students can then ascertain the larger message Miyazaki is giving, which is humans needs to live in harmony with nature. Nature is an ally, and not strictly a resource for humans to consume.