THE WIND RISES Movie Review
Hayao Miyazaki is a household name in Japanese animations, well-known for his charming stories and innovative style across the world. I was lucky enough to attend the Japanese Film Festival last week and was treated to The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki’s “final” movie. Beforehand, we were given an introduction about not only the history behind the movie itself, which is based on true events, but also Hayao Miyazaki’s long journey to retirement.
The Wind Rises follows Jiro, who dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted at a young age, disqualifying him to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 where he later becomes one of the world’s most innovative and accomplished airplane designers.
The film chronicles much of Jiro’s life, depicting key historical events — the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic, and Japan’s plunge into war. Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and forms a close friendship with his colleague Honjo.
The Wind Rises is one of the most stunning movies from Studio Ghibli I have ever seen, and I’ve seen pretty much all of them available to the West. It’s like the spiritual younger brother Grave Of The Fireflies where the subject matter is more dramatic than fantastic. The Wind Rises gives such a bitter sweet depiction of not just its characters but also the world live in. You feel the desperation of the Japanese, the arrogance of the Germans, and the over the top flamboyance of the Italians (granted it is seen through the eyes of a dreamy-eyed boy). Toppers to the already seamless animation.
There were a few problems I felt while watching the movie I had to really sit down and think about. Overall, I didn’t know how to feel about The Wind Rises. And maybe that was the point. How can one praise a man who designed a weapon that devastated a nation?
Miyazaki wants the audience to empathise with Jiro, for all his wanting of creating something beautiful, but be mindful that he is also creating something that would become a tool for destruction. He was living in an incredibly tense world at the time, did he honestly not think of what would happen to his piece of “art”? In this respect, Jiro comes off as naive and childish. This doesn’t detract from the movie much though since it gives you food for thought as you and your friends discuss what Miyazaki was trying to accomplish in the story.