Monday, March 3, 2014

Movie Review #10: The Wind Rises

Much like Terry Gilliam movies and the Dollars trilogy, I plan on watching a new Ghibli movie I've never seen before each month until I've watched them all. Chronologically, I was scheduled to watch Spirited Away next, but apparently The Wind Rises is out in theaters now, so I went watch that with Laura on Saturday. Luckily, movie night's not exactly a hit, so nobody showed up to watch Spirited Away with me. So, rather than overdose on Miyazaki, I decided to move that one to next month instead.

That said, The Wind Rises is in select theaters right now. You should go watch it, even if you're not usually into Ghibli movies. It's really good. That's my spoiler-free review. If that's not enough, though, then keep on reading~


Based on a real person, the story follows Jiro Horikoshi, who is fascinated by airplanes form a young age. It was a time of great invention in the world of flight, as countries scrambled to develop their own air forces. Japan is far behind other countries in aeronautics, and Jiro is faced with the problem of following in the footsteps of Germany and other Western countries, or to go a completely different direction and develop something that is distinctly Japanese.


Being neither an aeronautics buff (I hate flying) nor a WWII enthusiast (war sucks), I was not terribly familiar with Jiro Horikoshi nor with Zero aircraft that the Japanese used in the Pacific theater.

Which is fine, because this wasn't a movie about war, not really. It's a movie about having a dream and seeing it through, which is something I think we'd all like to do.

I'm very jealous of the people who figure out what they want to do with their lives and start working toward that goal at a young age. Even now, I can feel myself pulled in at least three different ways, as my various passions fight for my time. With any luck, our passions may feed off of one another, as Jiro's new airplane design and his love of his wife fuel each other. But that is rarely the case.

I was captivated by the movie from the start, and it kept my attention the whole way through better than any of the other movies I've seen recently. In fact, it kept my attention better than any Ghibli movie I've seen to date, too. I don't know if it was because the movie was loosely based on a real person, because the story was tightly written, or because I simply got caught up in Jiro's dream, but whatever it did, it did it well.

One of my favorite touches was how basically every sound an airplane makes in the movie is made by a human mouth rather than sampling the actual, painfully loud noises of real airplanes. By doing that, it made the airplanes oddly pleasant to listen to, even funny sometimes, like listening to the sound effects guys from A Prairie Home Companion having a blast. It also subtly reminds the audience that airplanes are human creations, and that every great accomplishment and awful tragedy caused by planes is a result of human ingenuity.

On that note, this movie sparked a bit of controversy in many places: in Japan for reminding them that they fought in WWII, in America for portraying the "enemy" in something other than a negative light, and in China and Korea for failing to acknowledge their people who were forced to participate in the building of these planes.

But, again, the story isn't about that. The movie doesn't ignore the tragedy that was WWII, but the focus is on the inspiring life of a man who had a dream and spent his life making it come true. I appreciate the beauty of the Zero fighter, even as I'm appalled at the fact that it was a weapon. I imagine that Hayao Miyazaki and, indeed, Jiro Horikoshi feel similarly.

This is my favorite Ghibli film to date, and although I'm sad to hear that it will be Miyazaki's final film, I think that this is an excellent note on which to end his career as a director.

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