The Wind Rises

Miyazake’s purported last film as writer and director is something of a heropic about Japanese airplane designer Jiro Horikoshi. In this telling of his life, he’s not just a chain- smoking tech nerd in ‘30s Japan, he’s also a chivalrous knight, a multi-linguist, an amateur singer, and an unabashed optimist. Besides this, The Wind Rises is also a period piece; audiences will be honored with a graceful rendition of Japan as it was before the Second World War. You’ll see a wedding ceremony, rustic landscapes, awesome kimonos, and the slow trend of Westernization as the Japanese realized how behind they were technologically (the fashion subtly becomes more western and urban the further into the movie you go).

The film’s execution is masterful; a magnum opus of music and animation that reaches Beethoven-esque heights. Every scene holds an unsurpassed amount of detail that causes it to live and breathe. There’s heartbreakingly beautiful panoramas of Japan’s natural beauty as it rushes past a train’s window. There’s the magic of a biplane engine put- putting to life, a cloud of smoke exploding out from it, then dissipating. Even the most ordinary moments (like the large amount of time spent watching Jiro writing at his work desk) are drawn and executed with such reverence that you can’t help but jump into his head and imagine that you’re there with him. Indeed, this film is undoubtedly a culmination of everything Studio Ghibli has been aiming for through the past decades. Never before have Miyazake’s feelings and ideas been so flawlessly expressed through visual media.

The Wind Rises probably won’t have the commercial success of Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, chiefly because of the chosen subject matter: Not only is the life of an airplane engineer, even tied in with tales of love and loss, a bit boring, but the fact that his crowning achievement ends up being to help make the Japanese Pearl Harbor planes makes this film even more dubious.

Hopefully audiences will see through these off-putting traits to the magic that is coursing throughout. The awkwardness of the almost pro-war subject matter contains within it the issues being faced by Jiro Horikoshi himself: He is a dreamer and artist above all other things, and wants only to create beautiful airplanes. He lives in a depressed, confused era of his nation, but persists in dreaming and creating. The director makes it clear that, more than creating engines of destruction, Jiro was giving hope to a nation that was drowning in the tides of war and technological innovation. “When reality becomes impossible,” Miyazake seems to say, “you must dream, and then you must live.”

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.