I just saw ‘The Wind Rises’ today and it totally reminds me of why I love Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films!
My love and adoration for the soft, but funny and exciting world of the Miyazaki’s (Hayao and Goro) first bloomed with the Oscar winner ‘Spirited Away’. It had a quiet artsy element that made the film more human, despite the fantasy storyline. I had seen ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ when I was very young, but didn’t link the two until much later. Chihiro’s journey in ‘Spirited Away’ to save her parents from becoming pigs by taking a job in a spirit bathhouse was intriguing. The friends she meets along the way (from enchanted ashes to a river spirit) really brought the story to a level you just couldn’t get to from other animated films.
When ‘Ponyo’ came out I fell in love all over again. I had yet to really get into Studio Ghibli, but ‘Ponyo’ propelled me in the right direction. Since the movie was based loosely on ‘The Little Mermaid’, I assumed most of their movies were geared for children with an adult feel to them. (An interesting little tid-bit I learned after recently acquiring the animated ‘Lord of the Rings’; the animation studio that brought you that and ‘The Last Unicorn’, Topcraft, later turned into Studio Ghibli after it went bankrupt). However, after watching ‘Nausiccaa of the Valley of the Wind’ and ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (a Ghibli production, but not directed by either Miyazaki) I discovered Ghilbi goes beyond children stories with these intensely emotional stories meant for adult audiences.
There are only a few I didn’t fall in love with, such as ‘The Secret World of Arrietty’ and ‘Porco Rosso’, but my favorites are ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Ponyo’, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’, and my personal favorite ‘From Up on Poppy Hill’. If you haven’t seen the last one, please run out and buy it right now.
I can say without a doubt that ‘The Wind Rises’ can join the ranks of my favorites. I didn’t watch any trailers or read anything about the movie before going to see it. I like to be surprised when I go to a Miyazaki film. It was definitely one of the more adult movies, dealing with war, political elements, disease, and death. It follows the life of a Japanese man who has dreamed of designing airplanes since he was a boy. His dream becomes reality as he begins his career with Mitsubishi before the start of WWII. The movie is based on Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical engineer who designed WWII fighter planes. I didn’t realize it was as long as it was, but each scene is important and beautiful. Naturally they have amazing English language voice actors. This includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, and Mae Whitman.
If you are lucky enough to live in a pre-showing city, go out and get your tickets. If not, you’ve got a little more time before the release, but I assure you, it is worth the wait.