The Wind Rises
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki; English dub directed by Gary Rydstrom
Starring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, and Mae Whitman.
Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki is generally regarded as one of the world’s greatest living animators. I first fell in love with his works when I saw Kiki’s Delivery Service at the Augustana Anime Club’s first film festival. And since Disney has been giving his movies big theatrical releases in North America, I’ve always made it a point to go out and see his latest films when they come out. There was some fear that Disney might skip releasing his latest film, The Wind Rises, because of it’s more grounded and realistic subject matter. It’s a fictionalized and highly romanticized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, one of Japan’s most renowned aircraft designers. But, when Miyazaki announced he was retiring and this would be his final film, Disney gave it a wide release. Is it a good note for Miyazaki to go out on?
Young Jiro is madly in love with aviation, but his poor eyesight means he’ll never be a pilot. But, when his mentors visit him in his dreams, he realizes he can still fulfill his dreams by becoming an aviation engineer. While in college, he rescues young Naoko in an earthquake, and even though he never sees her again, he still thinks of her. Upon graduation, Jiro and his friend Honjo are hired by an aircraft company, and they set out to bring Japanese aviation into the modern era. They have trouble finding the resources they require, but the winds of war may soon bring them what they need. And the winds of fate may even bring Jiro and Naoko together again.
What I Liked
While it’s Miyazaki’s most realistic film, the fact that such a serious subject is handled in animation makes it his most dreamlike. With Jiro frequently conversing with his mentors in his dreams, it soon becomes difficult to distinguish dreams from reality, which adds to the dreamlike qualities. The romance is passionate, as Jiro loves with this whole heart both aircraft and Naoko. And being Studio Ghibli, the animation is, of course, superb.
What I Didn’t Like
It moves awful slow. Without a big musical number or an action sequence like in most animated films, the long quiet moments take some getting used to. I also saw the English dub, and while most of the voice acting is top-notch, I found Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Jiro to be a little…sleepy at times.
I enjoyed it, and it’s sticking with me. I’m still puzzling over some things. That’s a good thing, right?