On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.
A high-school girl named Makoto acquires the power to travel back in time, and decides to use it for her own personal benefits. Little does she know that she is affecting the lives of others just as much as she is her own.
Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.
Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world's most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. The film chronicles much of his life, depicting key historical events, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan's plunge into war. Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo.Written by
I don't know if I loved it right from minute one, but then it doesn't quite start like any Miyazaki film (well, even with a dream scene). Its a little quieter, more natural, thoughtful and subdued, much like the main character will be through the film. And then earthquake hits. Its unlike anything you've seen in an animated film. It doesn't hype up its suspense or action. it simply shows Its protagonist, Jiro, react to a situation as calm and controlled as possible amid the debris and darkness and chaos, and help a couple of people in need. of course he doesn't know this young woman he saves will be an emotional foundation for his life. But as with any simple but splendid poetry we have a sense of the connection made.
Any other director might just make it a film about the 1920s earthquake that devastated Tokyo. Not Miyazaki. Soon after Tokyo is up and running and Jiro is after his passion which is airplanes. He dreams about them, and more than that dreams about the Italian icon of flying he looks up to as he gives Jiro advice and philosophical points about flying, inspiration and technology. And very soon after the film is more than anything about this man and his process - finding without any grandiose strokes what can make a plane fly quicker, faster, safer, with more agility and s look like no other. And, sometime soon, finding a love all his own.
Miyazaki has said (once again but probably for real this time) that he is done making films with the conclusion of the Wind Rises. If so, that's fine. I'm not sure if it's any sort of culmination of what his career has been or what he's said - Though you could certainly have a double feature with Porco Rosso, also about the wonder of flight but more in an adventure fantasy approach and have a fantastic several hours - and yet it's no less a marvel than anything else he's made. And if anything it just reveals more depths to how he feels for people and can show them in dimensions on screen than ever before. It is a biopic still, and a line here or there may be cornball, but so what. Its a fiercely intelligent film with genuine sentiment and a grace that comes from being a master letting your story unfold without rushing, letting scenes play out for full emotional weight, And ample colors and compositions painted with nostalgia for a mood (if not necessarily a side in history).
And yet you may think going in that there will be some sort of agenda politically speaking as it looks at a man who helped, ultimately, design planes that dropped bombs and shot and killed the US during world war two. It really isn't, or as simple as that. A couple of scenes with a German businessman of a sort voiced by Werner Herzog (yes the one and only, you'll know him when you hear him) lays out the futility in war and conflicts. And Jiro agrees. when someone speaks to him about what planes will be sent to fight whom, he is already resigned. "Japan will burn,' he says more or less. And yet he always stays more pragmatic, more about the work and the hard enough task to make the planes and make them fly high and well. This double edged sword also comes out when he is talking to his Italian guru in his dreams (especially the last one at the end of the war).
With all of this, the Wind Rises is a touching love story that seems possibly very doomed from the start - before getting engaged Jiro is told by Nahoko she has Tuberculosis and he doesn't care, or at least about that deterring him away - and how strong their bond is. How often do we get to see people in a movie, animated or otherwise, act like this to one another with kindness and compassion and a tenderness that (for the most part, maybe there's a bit of that "Japanese Disney" schmaltz but not much) is without any reservation? Not often really, at least like this as told at times without words at all; the high point of the picture is when there is a kind of wordless courtship as Jiro flies a paper plane around and it goes to the girl and she flies it back out as he chase to catch it and it repeats. The moving music, the amiable tone of the whole set piece, the mild peril... I'm at a loss to how much that just works because it feels true.
Did I mention its among the ten most beautifully animated films ever made? And I'm sure that group includes Mononoke and Totoro already. And I know full well a term like 'beautiful" is overused and tired. But Miyazaki crafts his works (or did) by hand with gorgeous, clear lines, water colors and maybe some cgi, and it both serves the story and its own sense of the world it's in: the earthy greens, the shiny clouds and blue skies, the metallic force of the planes, the drab grays of the offices and plane hangers. And yet you are still wrapped up in the tale of this man and those who cared about him or were inspired by and led by him, and is another rarity (easier to pull off in literature, trickier here and Miyzaki just about pulls it off): a mild wind that grows with power and energy, briefly, and then ebbs and flows with reality and, again, thought.
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