Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Wind Rises (2013)

The Wind Rises Photo - Hayao Miyazaki Photo

1 Nomination, 0 Wins

Nomination: Best Animated Feature Film - Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

In many ways, The Wind Rises's adult-oriented, historically based storyline is a departure for Hayao Miyazaki, but in other ways it is the natural culmination of the legendary director's career.  Though missing the fantastical elements of his previous output, the film brings the same childhood wonder and mystery from Miyazaki's world of imagination to a world more grounded in reality.

Hayao Miyazaki was born to Katsuji Miyazaki, an aeronautical engineer and the director of Miyazaki Airplane, a company that supplied rudders and other parts to Japanese fighter planers used in World War II.  It is not hard to see why Miyazaki was attracted to telling the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the primary engineer behind many of the airplanes used by Japan in the war, including the A6M Zero that Katsuji Miyazaki's rudders supplied.

Speculative psychology aside, what Miyazaki has put on film is a love letter to human flight, expertly balancing dramatically beautiful flight sequences with quieter moments of human drama.  Like all of Miyazaki's films, it is simple enough for children to love and complicated in its simplicity enough for adults to love.

The animation is beautiful, the American voice cast is well selected - particularly Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role - and the story is told briskly and thoughtfully.

While the master is enjoying a well-deserved retirement from filmmaking, I selfishly hope the 75-year-old genius still has another film or two in him.  If not, The Wind Rises is a wonderful coda to his career.


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