Princess Arete is a 2001 Japanese animated movie done by Studio 4C. It was based off an original story by Diana Coles, “The Clever Princess” or “The Adventure of Princess Arite” in Japan. The film is praised for subject matter but criticized for its pacing.
That being said I have a Hate-Respect for this movie. I get it, I just don’t want to watch it
The plot is about a Princess, Arete, who is forced to live in a tower by her father till a man worthy of her appears. Arete however knows how to get in and out of her tower and goes into the tower and would rather her life has substance. While she waits in the tower her suitors bring her father magical gifts.
Arete is visited by two of her would be suitors and she is less than impress by there swaggering and boasting and decides to leave her tower for good however she caught. She taken to her father and an old sorcerer named Boax who wants to marry the very young princess. Boax then puts an enchantment on Arete to make her a mindless traditional beautiful Princess. Before Boax takes Arete away, a witch gives her a magic ring that will grant her three wishes.
Boax takes Arete to his secret liar where it is reveal that Boax was actually a servant of the real Boax whose real motive was to imprison Arete because their a prophesy that she will end his immortal life.
Boax has a deal worked out with a village that he will supply water if the village feeds him. The one who work for him is a lady named Amble. Amble tries to free Arete but can’t seem to break her out. This sparks Arete to break out of her enchantment and reverts to being a child. Boax then gives Arete a impossible task to free himself of her. However Arete decides to go back to Boax’s liar and learns that he has jewel that makes water. She steals the jewel and floods the barren land so it will be green again. Boax then loses his magian crystal that makes so he can use magic thus ending his immortal life and fulling that pesky prophesy. Arete then goes off on to see the world, the end.
The idea behind this movie/story is feminism through the male gaze. Arete’s curse and what she have to inwardly fight against is being a default princess that literally waits to be saved.
On the one hand I respect this angle but on the other it means that Arete herself has no character development. She doesn’t grow, she reverts and then goes back to herself.
Also the pacing doesn’t help. It is toe-hair growing slow. It’s a s style that is common in Japanese movies. To be fair the pacing didn’t really bother me till 30 minutes in which is about when the plot kicked in. Slow pace stories work when the story is not a focal point but characters existing in their world so when Boax enters and starts the conflict the slow paces kills it. Call me unrefined but the pacing is unforgivable, it’s a miracle I even finished this clunker.
Also there is a weird quick of this movie that it doesn’t know how to let a moment land. For instance towards the end of the movie Amble quits working for Boax and she is telling him off. The movie lingers on the long-shot Amble, who isn’t doing anything for a notice duration before it cuts to Boax’s reaction. So now only is the pacing sleep-inducing but the editing is lacking.
Speaking of character, they don’t have much personalities. Arete just wants to sees the world and is curious. Boax is a meanie-pants, really half is dialogue is just yelling. Boax’s servants Grovel and Amble are there though Amble has a backbone and Grovel is a frog.
On a related note, Arete being a child and all the older guy vying to marry her made me very uncomfortable.
To the film’s credit the animation is interesting. The characters have a weird simplicity that adds to the children-book fantasy of the story, I can see some people liking the style and other hating it. It also has very lovely fluid moments and the backgrounds are wonderful.
The music, when there is music is also lovely. I wish there has been more of it through the film would have help me stay a wake through this.
Princess Arete while has an interesting angle with what should be a refreshing princess story is buried in slow uninteresting-ness, watch it if you’re insomniac.Follow thehunchblog