Film #123: The Wind Rises (2013)

kaze-tachinu-98033aka: 風立ちぬ (Kaze tachinu)
director: Hayao Miyazaki
language: Japanese with bits of German, French and Italian
length: 126 minutes
watched on: 18 July 2014

This film actually came out over a year ago in Japan, but I’d been waiting for the DVD release this year in order to actually watch it, with subtitles. It’s weird for me to type the English title, because I’ve always referred to it by the Japanese title while I’ve been here.

It’s the story of a famous Japanese aircraft designer from the early 20th century, based on a true story. I can’t remember his name. He basically ends up designing aircraft for the Japanese war effort, but doesn’t really understand the war or what Japan is fighting for.

It’s quite a different atmosphere from Miyazaki’s usual fare, since it involves a male protagonist and rather grown-up themes, without magical realism except for a few dream sequences with impossibly large planes. But there are some themes that have been carried over from earlier works by Miyazaki and Ghibli, such as a fixation on planes, trains and other technology, and a certain whimsical tone to the whole thing. It’s been in turns credited as Miyazaki’s best and worst work of his career – usually corresponding to whether one likes the rest of Miyazaki’s work.

Actually, I think it’s quite average. I thought that the film was very beautiful, but I found the story boring, and I couldn’t understand what message was being put across. Miyazaki tends to be a pacifist and famously marched against nuclear weapons a few years ago on his own, so I can’t imagine him glorifying the war, but at times it seems like that’s the case, or almost so. But at the same time, many characters remark that Japan is a very poor country and it’s about to collapse. There’s one prophetic American character in the middle in particular who basically tells the main character what will happen in the war.

The other strange thing about the movie is that a lot of the sound effects are made by humans, similar to beat boxing. For instance, the plane engines are simulated by people making raspberry sounds. While some of the rest of the movie was a bit whimsical, this did contrast strongly with the gravity of some of the other situations and felt inappropriate at times.

It was definitely worth watching altogether. I wouldn’t call it Miyazaki’s best, but it’s at least in the top half. I think it’s been out in the UK recently (courtesy of Mark Kermode’s podcast), so if it’s still on, people there should go and see it in the cinemas!

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One Response to Film #123: The Wind Rises (2013)

  1. Pingback: Film #189: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) | reuoq

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