I’ve never done a film review on this blog before (I prefer to leave that to Ms Greer instead as a general rule) but I’ll make an exception for the exceptional Studio Ghibli film The Wind Rises.
I’ll freely admit I’m a lover of animation in general, Anime more specifically and of the work of Studio Ghibli especially. I can’t think of a film of theirs I’ve disliked, although my reaction to seeing Tales From Earthsea was quite frankly “meh”. The Wind Rises is, in my opinion, probably the best film this animation studio has ever produced. The narrative certainly flows, with a clear plot, crisp editing and a lack of extraneous fluff resulting in a well paced film that doesn’t feel anything like 126 minutes. The plot held my attention captive utterly, to the point that I still had some of my drink left as the credits were rolling; that has only ever happened while seeing one other film in a cinema, which was Book of Eli, but I digress.
Kaze Tachinu or The Wind Rises is a cinematic feast with sumptuous colours, evocative storytelling, and a rousing soundtrack. It tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, following his boyhood inspiration by Italian plane designer Count Giovanni Caproni to become an aeronautical engineer as well. This is essentially a love story, or rather two love stories.
The first love story is about Jiro’s love of flight and his desire “to build beautiful aeroplanes”, which takes him around the world and sees him culminating in the creation of the famous Zero fighter plane. The intended uses that the planes made at the company he works for are alluded to over the course of the film. The war scenes act as a not very subtle metaphor on the loss of innocence as the rose tinted glasses of idealism fade and crack.
Love story number two is Jiro’s relationship with Nahoko Satomi. This wends its way deftly through the rest of the plot, binding the film together and rounding out the main characters in way that creates real emotional connections. Arguably the film could have focused solely on the creative vision, struggles and engineering abilities of Jiro during the inter-war years, but the resulting film would have been a far less engaging tale.
This is apparently to be the final work of Hayao Miyazaki which is a shame, but perhaps at the age of 73 he thinks it’s time to hang up his brushes and retire. Then again, he said that Howl’s Moving Castle was to be his last movie and has directed six more films since then, so perhaps one of the world’s greatest animators will change his mind once more.