THE WIND RISES
(directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 2013)
**** (out of 5)
> Oh please Hayao Miyazaki- say it ain’t so! This film was touted as the swansong of the master animator’s stellar career. Word is, after a long run, churning out gorgeous films- Studio Ghibli is dissolving. But why?
. The great Japanese anime magician has a son who has followed in his footsteps. Why not turn the studio over to Gorō? (There are some rumors that Miyaziki Sr. is already backpedalling on this. I sure hope there’s some truth to them, because until this great artist is actually dead, I am just unwilling to accept that there isn’t more stellar work in the man!)
. Though this outing was not on the imaginative scale of the stunning masterworks SPIRITED AWAY or HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, it is a stunning piece of exceptional artistry in its own right. Like Gorō’s lovely FROM UP ON POPPY HILL, THE WIND RISES is a mature work, more subtle and nuanced than the films that came before it- and while there’s little here one could deem “inappropriate” for children, it is not a kid’s movie really, because it is about adults facing adult themes, like nationalism, militarism and serious illness. This historical epic is a biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who led Japan’s aeronautics program in the years leading up to WWII. For obvious reasons, Americans are apt to be a bit cool toward this. And it is a bit of a coldly formal affair that works better in the first half of the film than after the romance kicks in in the second half.
. But the glorious, vibrant colors alone are enough to recommend this film. Most of the moods are expressed in calm pastels, but the sequences where Jiro communes in a mutual dreamscape with his Italian aviation hero enliven things, and this film contains some of the most detailed animated crowd scenes I’ve ever seen. There is so much to amaze and delight here, it’s very ambitious stuff!
> More Mr. Miyaziki! Check the mirror. You are not dead yet!
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