Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Steve Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, Nomura Mansai
RunTime: 2 hrs 6 mins
Released By: Encore Films
Official Website: http://kazetachinu.jp
Opening Day: 20 March 2014
Synopsis: In The Wind Rises, Jiro ― inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni ― dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes. Short-sighted from a young age and thus unable to become a pilot, Jiro joins the aircraft division of a major Japanese engineering company in 1927. His genius is soon recognized, and he grows to become one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers. The film chronicles much of his life, and depicts key historical events that deeply affected the course of Jiro’s life, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan’s plunge into war. He meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo. A brilliant innovator, Jiro leads the aviation world into the future. Miyazaki pays tribute to engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori in his creation of the fictional character Jiro―the center of the epic tale of love, perseverance, the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.
It saddens this writer just by thinking about it – the world is no longer as magical as it used to be. In his recent memory, he could always rely on the friendly wood spirits in My Neighbour Totoro (1988), the anthropomorphic pig in Porco Rosso (1992) or the silent masked creature in Spirited Away (2001) to brighten up his day whenever things got gloomy. Japanese filmmaker (and also animator, manga artist, illustrator, producer and screenwriter) Hayao Miyazaki has enchanted generations of audiences with his anime feature films. The 73 year old’s internationally acclaimed Studio Ghibli has produced works that bring hope in the darkest moments.
Things are about to get a little sombre with Miyazaki’s latest piece of work. The animated historical drama film adapted from the award winning film director’s own manga of the same name is loosely based on a 1937 short story by Tatsuo Hori, who is a writer, poet and translator from mid 20thcentury Japan. It tells the fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. If you have been paying attention during your history lessons, you’d know these two aircraft models were used by Japanduring World War II – and they caused countless tragic deaths.
With a war plane designer as its protagonist, would you be falling in love with this film, like you did with the rest of Miyazaki’s illustrious past works? Would you be able to be swept away by a film about a man who built killing machines? If you look beyond the cynicism and unpleasantness, chances are, you’d be left in melancholic wonder by how a man’s ambition, vision and dream can be realised in such a tragically poetic manner.
That, and of course, how you don’t have imagined magical creatures to liven the mood. Yes, this 126 minute film is true to life, and asks you to come to grips with the harsh reality life has in store for you.
While this is an animated film, do not expect your toddlers to leave the theatre remembering cutesy characters and catchy music. This is one of the most adult non live action works we’ve seen, and kudos to the veteran Miyazakiand his team of visionary filmmakers for affectionately bringing this tale to screen.
The film may move along at a ploddingly slow pace, but leave your impatience at the door and experience this gorgeously made masterpiece. It is only then you can fully appreciate the themes raised in the story: How is a technician different from an artist? How is an engineer different from a dreamer? Does the end always justify the means? And what role does love play in the pursuit of realising one’s dreams? This are adult questions indeed, and while you are enjoying composer Joe Hisaishi’s luscious score and cinematographer Atsushi Okui’s stunning palette of colours, there is no doubt life’s simplest yet most complex issues will be lingering in your mind.
While there is some controversy whether this film promotes violence (would you regard a war plane designer a hero?) and smoking (the protagonists light up countless cigarettes in the film), or whether Miyazaki’s supposedly retirement after the completion of the film is a publicity stunt, one thing is for sure – you can’t deny that this is one affecting film that will leave you coming to terms with life’s most beautiful and ugliest moments.
(The legendary Hayao Miyazaki has managed to tell a simply story based on life’s most complex issues with this melancholically beautiful piece of work)
Review by John Li