The latest animated masterpiece from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, The Wind Rises, is a historical fantasy adventure. Set in Japan sometime during World War I, it follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi and his dreams to build airplanes.
As a young boy, Jiro dreams of flying airplanes, but due to his nearsightedness he is unable to become a pilot. Instead, Jiro’s inspired to design airplanes by a famous Italian airplane designer named Caproni. Years later, Jiro is on his way to attend college. During a devastating earthquake, he meets and aids a young girl, Nahoko, and her maid. Jiro eventually gets a job at an airplane manufacturing company with his childhood friend, Honjo. Within months, he is given a project for the Navy, which ends in disappointing failure. While resting at a summer resort, he runs into Nahoko again. They’re at the same place where they fell in love. In the end, he sees his dreams of building a perfect plane realized – only to regret the destruction and deaths they caused.
The film chronicles some key historical events in Japan; such as the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923; Japan’s depression era; tuberculosis outbreak; and Japan’s relationship with Germany, and it’s entry into the war.
The Wind Rises is a beautiful, visual and moving animated film. This is probably one of Miyazaki’s most personal films to date, reflecting back on his own life. His father worked in an airplane factory during World War II, and mother suffered from tuberculosis. There are some transitional parts in the film where you get lost in the storyline and during the earthquake sequence I thought that a monster was coming from the ferocious sounds it made. The film and it’s theme is easily his most mature film. It’s not a movie for kids like My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo and Spirited Away. There are lots of adults smoking in it, too.
This was to be Miyazaki’s final film before his retirement. But, in January he announced that he may not be retiring at all. If true, this would be his sixth time canceling his retirement.
* We attended a screening to facilitate this review.