Astonishing to think nearly 10 years since Japanese animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki unearthed hiss swan song film, The Wind Rises. Studio Ghibli also went into hiatus after Miyazaki‘s announced ‘retirement’, a decade later you can’t keep a animation master at bay!
The Wind Rises like many of Miyazaki’s previous films, it has a personal connection. His father worked in the aviation industry as a director at the Miyazaki Plane company which was owned by his uncle. They manufactured airplane parts during World War II, so it’s no surprise he has had a fasination since he was a boy.
The name of the film is taken from a novel written by Tatsuo Hori. Which was also a line taken from a poem called Le Cinetiere Marin (The Graveyard By The Sea) written by Paul Valery.
When we first meet Jiro Horikoshi as a young boy who dreams of being a pilot. His dreams shattered because of his poor eyesight forcing him to chang from flying to designing the aircrafts.
We now move forward several years to September 1923. Jiro is now travelling on a train when the great Kanto Earthquake strike. Jiro assists helping his fellow passengers who are injured one of those are Naoko and her maid. Both wouldn’t cross paths again several years later when Jiro has graduated from University. He’s tried several jobs and when they do meet they fall in love very quickly get engaged when illness hits. They try enjoy what little time they have together whilst Jiro continued to create his sucessful plane design.
If you ever need a reason that animation isn’t just for children, watch this film. Animation is for everyone regardless of your age, that doesn’t mean it has to have sex and violence in it. What I’ve noticed with many of Hayao Miyazaki‘s films they seem to grow with their audience . With subject matter that grows with that audience, which also makes it a wider appeal to adults.
Michael Fassbender’s character in Alien: Prometheus once asaid ‘Big Things have Small Beginnings‘. For Jiro those big things come shape of his dreams, childhood dreams. His boyhood hero Italian Aeronautical engineer Gianni Caproni would appear which the pair question, whose dream are they actually in? The pair do share a connection of their future creations ‘for passengers’, however they are living in dark times. Famines, tuberculosis pandemic, earthquakes and the pending doom of World War II.
Despite the hardships, Jiro continues to follows his dreams. He does have a relisation his dream is fast becoming another cog in Japan’s military complex and that disturbs him. Hayao Miyazaki has always openly called himself a pacifist and Jiro himself is a way one too. Under the warmongering Japanese government allied by Nazi Germany. Jiro has wittness the aggression, the oppression and horrors of life in wartime. The consequences of what he designs beign used for killing haunt him.
The Wind Rises is also a romance drama, not just from the beauty of following your aspirations, but from the love story between Jiro and Naoko. That path was sealed when they met during the Kanto Earthquake, it’s destiny. Naoka’s days maybe limited she is still a rock of inspiration for Jiro as his his sister. Throughout Miyazaki‘s filmography he always has stong female characters , this film is no different. Jiro’s sister may start as the brat in the film she grows to become a strong character who would become a doctor.
Many may argue The Wind Rises is Miyazaki‘s autobiographical story. Reflecting his struggles and rise to become the animation master he is now known. A Pacifist, someone with strong morals and forced to answer some impossible questions. The Wind Rises is a beautiful and beguilling film which has no true villains or shows the blood of war. It does try to deal with war and death delivered in a restained, rewarding poetic story.