THE LAST EFFORT FROM ONE OF ANIMATION’S GREATEST MINDS:
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey,
William H. Macy, Zach Callison, Madeleine Rose Yen, Eva Bella, Edie Mirman, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood, Ronan Farrow, David Cowgill
Studio: Disney / Studio Ghibli
WHAT WE THOUGHT
“The Wind Rises” focuses on the near-sighted Jiro. This young man wants to be a pilot, but his physical limitations keep him from aspiring to great heights. So, he turns to the best in Japan and Europe to learn from what they know about the young field of aviation. Jiro decides to make his mark on the world, by inventing a new type of plane. Unfortunately, this is the 1930s and Jiro just made the Zero fighter. The plane made famous by its attacks on Pearl Harbor and various Kamikaze suicide bombings around the known world.
There is something to be said for Japanese animation being so willing to tackle the heroes of the Imperial Period. So much of Japanese culture and cinema has almost been trained to ignore that period and treat it like it never happened. Americans view it in a light that falls somewhere between subtle racism and History Channel sizzle reel. Watching Jiro struggle, as he wants a career and family is amazing. Especially, since he realizes that anything he contributes to the Empire will be used in the upcoming wars with China and Soviet influences. There’s a forced bit of romantic entanglement that almost borders on “Grave of the Fireflies” style weepery, but the film pulls through.
When we finally get to the end of the picture, one has to wonder if Miyazaki truly made his final statement with this picture. I see the work of a master at play, but I don’t see this a career capper. That is unless Miyazaki believes that his art got away from him and was corrupted somehow. But, I don’t believe that the Jiro of the 1940s believes he lost control. He made a plane and became influential in the field of aviation. It didn’t happen the way he wanted, but the dream was fulfilled. Don’t tug too hard on the thread of that dream, as it’s going to push you into a Google hole full of alternate WWII history.
The film goes wide this weekend and I hope that all parties make an effort to see it. Whether it’s the destruction of the Kanto Earthquake or Jiro finally seeing his dream in flight, this is a movie meant for the big screen. This is the first time since “Howl’s Moving Castle” that I can make that claim for a Miyazaki film. See it big, see it loud and share it with those that have yet to experience Miyazaki. Make it an event.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!