The Oscar-winning actor, who has worked with some of the all-time greats and continues to thrive as arguably the biggest name in Hollywood, has been a relentless cinephile from his formative years, a time when he clearly envisioned his time in front of a camera.
“I grew up when I was 15 when I had my first opportunity in movies,” the actor once commented. “I watched every great movie for a year and a half, and since then I’ve asked myself how I can emulate such artistry. That’s really my motivation. I want to do something as good as my heroes have done.” It goes a long way to show the level of commitment DiCaprio dedicated to his craft from a young age.
So when he was asked by both Esquire and the Golden Globes to pick out some of his all-time favourite films, some of the names involved might not come as such as a surprise. Directors such as Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick naturally appear on the list. But there was also room for another classic, this time from an anime masterpiece.
Picking out Hayao Miyazaki’s classic Princess Mononoke as his favourite of all time, DiCaprio has undoubtedly shown his love for anime. The studio Ghibli feature is by far one of the most iconic moments in anime’s growing and rich history.
The most spectacular epic in the studio’s filmography, Princess Mononoke’s sprawling narrative is nothing short of extraordinary, particularly as the animation used to carry the story is so rich in detail and pure imagination.
Inspired by the westerns of John Ford, Miyazaki brought together “characters from outcast groups and oppressed minorities who rarely, if ever, appear in Japanese films,” to form the town at the centre of this grand tale. It’s a complex one too, packing layers and layers of detail into a compact film that follows young Ashitaka, seeking a cure for a savage animal attack that sparks their travels across a land ravaged by humans.
Depicting stunning landscapes, along with one of Studio Ghibli’s most cinematic stories imbued with the grandeur of Japanese mythos, Miyazaki comments that his aim with the film was to “portray the very beginnings of the seemingly insoluble conflict between the natural world and modern industrial civilisation”.