Monday, March 10, 2014

[Review] The Wind Rises

Legendary director, Hayao Miyazaki, delivers his final film with The Wind Rises. It's packed with the dazzling, intricately-detailed animation that we come to expect from Studio Gibli, and it's as gorgeous as ever. The story itself is less whimsical and more Casablanca and Gone With the Wind than Miyazaki's usual fare, and it goes out on a complex and emotionally powerful note.

Jiro, the main character, is a dreamer with his eyes toward the sky. His life goal is to be an aircraft designer. We first meet him as a young child, and then the film flashes forward to where he saves a girl named Naoko during an earthquake. Several years later, the two reunite and fall in love. But unfortunately, she's badly sick with tuberculosis. The story revolves around their relationship and Jiro's passion and strive for perfection in his career of inventing stealthy airplanes. But there's a dark and conflicting edge beneath the gorgeous clouds, as the exact model Jiro invents is set to be used in the impending World War II. This harsh reality is most pronounced when Jiro presents his design, promoting its speed and saying, "If you don't carry guns, there's no problem", only to be met with laughs by the engineers.

The film is a deeply layered look at ambition and the complicated idea that someone's apparently innocent work could be used so strongly against their intentions--to the levels of absolute destruction. From an early age, Jiro wanted to see his product fly high, but not for purposes of war. There are some lulls in The Wind Rises--where you might actually catch yourself daydreaming, but overall, it's a seriously bittersweet and hauntingly transcendent send off.


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