At age 73, Japanese animation filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki already has an impressive array of titles beneath his belt, including the critically acclaimed “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away,” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” His latest film “The Wind Rises,” is slightly different from many of his other films in that it is not focused on travelling to distant realms and supernatural events; however, that is in no way a limitation.
The film follows the fictionalized life of Japanese airplane engineer Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the English dub), who designed the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M Zero airplanes for use in World War II. It begins with Jiro’s inspirational experiences as a child and how those inspirations grow as he enters the field of airplane engineering. However, the film is not solely about Jiro’s work on planes; rather, it involves the intertwining of his personal life and professional life, his dreams and accomplishments. One of the main motifs throughout the movie is Jiro’s dream world, where he often meets Italian airplane engineer Giovanni Battista Caproni. Jiro’s dream world is a reflection of all his goals and ideals, and his experiences there inspire him in both his personal and professional pursuits. Naoki Satomi (voiced by Emily Blunt in the dub), Jiro’s love interest, also plays a critical role in his personal experiences, and helps to build the more caring, personal canvas that keeps the movie from becoming “too technical.”
As usual with Miyazaki’s films, the audio-visual experience is outstanding. Colours are bright, crisp, and clear, and animation never stutters; more impressive is the fact that, still to this day, the animation is completely hand-drawn. There is little to no computer imaging utilised. The musical score also complements the on-screen action perfectly to create an emotive soundscape that adds great breadth to the presentation of the film.
This film was actually nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Picture. And it is more than worth the nomination; “The Wind Rises” is extremely emotional. I know a couple people who were essentially crying at the end of the movie. It takes the viewer on a journey through the hardships and great achievements of Jiro’s life and, as a result, successfully transports one into the world portrayed in the film. To quote the movie: “She was very beautiful, just like the wind.”
Simply put, the film is beautiful.
Edsman Rating: A+