fri 21/06/2024

The Wind Rises | reviews, news & interviews

The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises

Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki delivers a soaring swansong

Up, Up and Away: 'The Wind Rises' is the story of aeronautical engineer Jirô Horikoshi

Hayao Miyazaki's final film The Wind Rises is grand, sweeping and bursting with the kind of beautiful animation we've become accustomed to from Studio Ghibli (which celebrates its 30th birthday next year). Miyazaki delves into Japanese history with a soaring autobiography of aeronautical engineer Jirô Horikoshi, which also acts as a tribute to the writer Tatsuo Hori - who penned the original short story "The Wind Has Risen".

The freedom and highs of creative expression and following your dreams are stylishly rendered through breathtaking flight sequences - first in Jirô’s fantasies before they become his reality. True to form, Miyazaki also looks at the downside and the binding nature of blind obsession. He juxtaposes innovation with destruction as Jiro wrangles with the ethics of designing a fighter plane. Miyazaki targets an older audience than usual and entirely pulls it off thanks to his nimble, infectious storytelling, great characters and stunning visuals.

We meet Jirô (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the English-language version) as a young lad, his obsession with aircraft already occupying his dreams. We also meet his feisty little sister, Kayo (Mae Whitman), who feels neglected by his preoccupation with work, a recurring theme throughout The Wind Rises. There's a strong sense of regret that's reflected upon, especially when it comes to the importance of spending time with family and loved ones.

Miyazaki forwards through time to the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 where we once again meet Jirô, who is now ensconced in his study of aircraft engineering. He’s aboard a train when the disaster strikes: the voice effects employed here work exceptionally well, the gruff rumble of fire twinned with the dark visual effects bring to life the devastation of the natural disaster, with the screen shaking and sucking you in. This is also the point at which Jirô meets a girl named Nahoko (Emily Blunt), laying the foundations for an epic and heart-wrenching love story, which we see unfold once Jirô has entered the workplace and the realities of adult life.

Imaginative fantasy sequences break up the biographical elements of the film, and there are wonderful nods to Miyazaki’s impressive canon of work throughout. When Jirô takes a break from work he meets a German man named Castorp (voiced by Werner Herzog who gamely sings a tune in a short musical interlude), whose face on first look resembles that of an aged Sofî from Howl’s Moving Castle. Miyazaki reflects on his past work, the use of a street lamp lighting his characters from time to time mirroring the now iconic bus stop scene from My Neighbour Totoro, but his use of voices for the sound effects is testament to his thirst for moving forward and pushing creative boundaries.

Miyazaki packs a lot into the two-hour running time - he covers the early history of aircraft engineering while also celebrating creativity, tells a moving love story and ruminates on the inevitably of growing older. It’s all done with his usual sense of wonderment, gusto and honesty, meaning that The Wind Rises makes for a fine swansong.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for The Wind Rises


Werner Herzog gamely sings a tune in a short musical interlude


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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