The Wind Rises

Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2013, 126 min.

The Wind Rises may be Hayao Miyazaki’s last film. I hope that’s not the case. Miyazaki has been one of the world’s greatest animators for decades, and you can see a lot of the reasons why by watching this film.

It’s the story of boy growing into a man during pre-WWII Japan. He’s obsessed with flight (much like Miyazaki himself), but due to his bad eye-sight will never be able to be a pilot. But after having a shared dream with a famous Italian aircraft-designer he decides to becomes an aeronautical engineer.

The film follows him on his journey, touching on big events in Japanese history as well as his personal life. The Tokyo Earthquake, the stirrings of World War II, his schooling, his romantic life, and his dreams.

Dreams are a large part of this film. The dream-world he shares with the Italian designer has a big impact on his growth and decisions. He can see how his planes fly (or fail) in dreams, and he can see how his designs might impact the world.

The animation, of course, is beautiful. From the insert shots on a train of the Japanese country-side passing by, to the thrilling flying scenes. The things you’ve come to expect from Miyazaki are all here.

But the film is very Japanese. There are historic events and ideas that are probably ingrained in the psyche of Japanese citizens, but these were things I was learning about for the first time while watching this film. I felt left out, like I was watching a strictly personal story that I had no involvement in. It made the film film long at points, and a bit anti-climactic.

In many ways, I can see Miyazaki as the main character. And I can see how he might have made this film to explore experiences and ideas that he has had for his whole life. Of course, that’s just conjecture. But even if I did feel a bit lost at sea during the film, I was able to appreciate the supreme artistry and feeling that went into making it.

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