The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises marks the swan song of animation legend Hayao Miyazki’s prolific filmography. The film is truly a work of beauty and provides a more than sufficent goodbye to a pioneer in the field of Japanese Animation. The animation is crisp, colorful and imaginative while maintaining a remarkable realism in the movements of here human form. The dream sequences in which Jiro imagines his planes dazzling and spark with creativity. As a matter of preference I generally prefer foreign movies with subtitles rather than a dub track, but the English voice dub cast is naturalistic and generally not distracting as dubs often are. Joseph Gordon Levitt, Emily Blunt and John Krasinksi all give great, understated vocal performances that seek to emote rather than over-animate.
The story is a biographical piece about Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese engineer who lived his dream of designing and building airplanes by doing so for the Japanese war effort in World War II. An artist with a passion, he honors his country while fulfilling his life long ambition, yet still maintains his innocence as a man who simply wants to build planes, regardless of what they are used for. The film provides some biting commentary on the backwards nature of Japanese society during the Second World War, especially in comparison with the rest world. It also illustrates some chilling recreations of disasters like the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But the true heart of the film lies in the romantic subplot between Jiro and Naoko. Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I generally find love interests tacked on and unnecessary. They don’t interest me, in fact they generally bore me. The romantic sub plot displayed here is one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve seen put to film. There is a sincerity and warmth that diffuses the melodrama it could have so easily devolved into. Spoilers ahead: Their story is a tragedy, as Naoko is stricken with Tuberculosis and eventually passes. But her death is never seen, it is simply presented as something he had to go through. That right there exemplifies what I loved so much about this movie: it’s avoidance of melodrama while still maintaining a touching story of love and tragedy. I can not reccomend this movie enough, especially if you’re a fan of Miayazaki’s other work like Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, or Princess Monoake. Either way this movie is a moving experience and a wonderful send off to a tremendous talent.

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