Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises”
The Wind Rises is supposedly the final film from legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, and it is a good one. He has brought us amazing animated movies such as Spirited Away (2001), Ponyo (2008), Princess Mononoke (1997), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and My Neighbor Totoro (1988). This movie is no different. If this actually is Miyazaki’s swan song, then he goes out at the top of his game.
The Wind Rises tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, voice acted by a very talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is the man that went on to design Japanese fighter planes during World War II. It sounds odd. Telling the story of the guy who made the planes that bombed Pearl Harbor. But it works. Because this character is not responsible for the death and destruction. He is creating instruments of beautiful design and architecture. He can’t help the horrid ways in which others use his planes.
Ever since he was a child, Jiro is seen to have dreams of planes. He knows he can’t fly, but he wants to build them. And it is in these dreams that we see so many things. His idol comes to him and offers him guidance (Stanley Tucci with an awesome italian accent). We see how he uses these dreams to try and tell us the kinds of things he wants to do. And it just so happens to take place during a pivotal time in history. This movie is very loosely based on the real character, as his secondary storyline with the love interest is completely made up.
Miyazaki’s animation is beautiful here. The landscape blew me away at moments. The detail in the mountains or the clouds. Just little things that got to me in terms of animation. And I know that the “hand-drawn” animation style isn’t loved by everyone, but it is the style Miyazaki uses and it works brilliantly. It may not look so realistic or as dimensional as Wreck It Ralph or Toy Story, but it works.
The character of Jiro is where the heart of the film truly lies. We see everything in his perspective and we love him as a character. He is nice, artistic, and genuine. There isn’t much of a plot here but there is a lot going on with these characters. Jiro falls in love with a woman he rescued many years earlier, only to find out that she has tuberculosis and her days are limited. But we see him strive for what he wants. He wants her and his planes. He isn’t afraid of the what-ifs or the future. He only knows what he wants in the moment. And we can’t blame him for that.
Levitt is supported by amazing supporting voice actors that include Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, William H. Macy, Werner Herzog, and a brilliantly hilarious Martin Short. Martin Short’s Mr. Kurokawa made this movie almost 100 times funnier. Just his reactions and yelling were laugh out loud funny. There definitely are some light-hearted moments and some funny ones; but there are also some dark ones. This is animated movie but it shouldn’t be confused for a kids movie. Because it isn’t. It clearly is an animated movie made for grown ups. The artistic vision and themes going on in this movie will go over numerous children’s heads, and probably a good amount of adult’s heads too.
There are moments where you can tell this was made in a different culture than here. Certain things escalate so quickly and advance so quickly that you almost have to shake your head because of how silly it seems. But I just rolled with it, and I loved it. There is a pacing issue for sure. The beginning is pretty good but in the middle, it does drag on a bit. I almost nodded off at one point but then they introduced the love story plot and I was wide awake again. The movie runs a little longer than it probably should, but I forgive it because the whole picture is a joy to watch. It will make you laugh and might even make you cry. Don’t miss out on seeing what seems to be Miyazaki’s final movie. You won’t regret it.
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Joseph-Gordon Levitt’s voice acting
+: Martin Short’s hilarious timing with Mr. Kurokawa
+: Surprisingly sweet and tragic love story
+: Heavy emotional moments
+: Beautiful animation
+: Artistic and creative vision
+: Most of the voice cast
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: Some moments seemed to move and escalate too fast
-: Movie dragged at a certain point
-: Pacing issues
-: Lengthy run time