Apr 2, 2014

Posted by in Movies & TV | 0 Comments

Review: The Wind Rises

hr_The_Wind_Rises_2 I, of course, went and saw The Wind Rises opening weekend. As a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan, there was no chance I would miss his final film before retirement… again. And preliminary reviews were nothing short of exemplary. I couldn’t find a critic online who didn’t like it.

 This made me nervous for obvious reasons, but at the very least I knew that I would enjoy the movie, if not love it. It’s Miyazaki for cryin’ out loud. However, after watching the movie, I realized I needed to give myself time to really digest this movie, because it was unlike any other movie he has made. I won’t say I was disappointed, because I still enjoyed it. I just blindsided by the kind of story I was in for.

 From Metacritic: “Jiro Horikoshi, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni, dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes. Nearsighted from a young age and thus unable to become a pilot, Jiro joins the aircraft division of a major Japanese engineering company in 1927. His genius is soon recognized, and he grows to become one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers. The film chronicles much of his life, and depicts key historical events that deeply affected the course of Jiro’s life, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan’s plunge into war. He meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo. A tremendous innovator, Jiro leads the aviation world into the future. Miyazaki pays tribute to engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori in his creation of the fictional character Jiro – the center of the epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.”

the-wind-rises-post6All other Miyazaki movies have had a magical, mystical, or dream-like aspect. From the spirit world of Spirited Away to the magic of Howl’s Moving Castle to the mythical of Princess Mononoke, there’s always been a fantastical element. But The Wind Rises is historical fiction, based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M Zero airplanes. The movie possesses only one Miyazaki-like interpretation that differs from real life, that being his ever-strange and wonderful airplane designs.

 These airplanes are the central focus of the film. Or rather, Jiro’s passion for them. Miyazaki loves drawing unique, propeller-powered airplanes, and his distinctive take on flying machines has appeared in nearly every one of his movies in some shape or form. My personal favorites are the sparkly-eye-inducing pirate ships of Castle in the Sky. But unlike every other movie except Porco Rosso, the airplanes in The Wind Rises are the main tool by which he tells his story. And the reason is obvious. As his last movie, Miyazaki obviously wanted to draw and create what he loved most.

 But this story is so much more than that. And in a lot of ways, it’s different than anything he’s ever done before. Aside from the aforementioned distinctions, the pacing of this movie is much slower, with many scenes included of Jori simply smoking and thinking, lending credence to Miyazaki’s intent to present a life story, rather than a tale over a short span of time. Also, from the movie poster, I expected this movie to be much more of a love story, and it is, but in a way I didn’t expect.

 And this is where I had to take my time to really consider the film and all it had to offer. Initially I was disappointed by the role Jiro’s love interest played: a small one. And while it was still powerful, I honestly think that if she had been given a bigger role, it would have made the movie even better. That being said, Miyazaki is a master, and Nahoko’s presence is felt every time she appears. I am a hopeless romantic, so of course their relationship wasn’t enough for me. But once I put down my rose glasses, I could only applaud what Miyazaki accomplished through Jiro and Nahoko. And while I won’t spoil the ending, I will say that their relationship is a tragic one, and the ending of the movie will leave you utterly shattered. That’s Miyazaki for you. A true genius when it comes to telling stories. I can only hope that one day, I can write something a hair-thin fraction as great as any of his triumphs.

 The movie is breathtaking, and I can’t wait to one day add it to my shelf collection. The moviegoer will feel the air during amazing flight scenes, feel pain when Jiro struggles, and feel their hearts lift with every one of his successes. I’m saddened to think this is the last story we will get to enjoy from Hayao Miyazaki, but it’s a grand final mark on a golden career.