Film Review: Wondrous Last Act for Hayao Miyazaki in ‘The Wind Rises’

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – The master animator and film legend Hayao Miyazaki (“Howl’s Moving Castle,” “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke”) announced his retirement after his latest film, “The Wind Rises.” He is often called “Japan’s Walt Disney,” but there is more to him then that, a soul and a mystery that is revealed in the stages of his animated art, and his contribution to artistic culture will continue to influence for generations to come. “The Wind Rises” is nominated for Best Animated Film at the 2014 Academy Awards. Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

“The Wind Rises,” although an odd subject for a final exploration, is still full of the Miyazaki wonder. The beauty of his design is all over it’s landscape, and it fulfills the energy of the emotions it conveys. The metaphor of airplane flight through the generations provides the often Miyazaki theme of duality, in this case war and peace. The distinctly drawn characters of the master animator’s universe cavort through the story with the same magic and fulfillment as his previous artworks, and provides a sense of both nostalgia and presence. There is something about Hayao Miyazaki that produces a well of feelings, that often have nothing to do with the story itself, and everything to do about our own reflective lives.

Jiro (voice of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the English dubbed version) is a sensitive boy who dreams of flight, often coupled with dreams of fantastic airplanes, designed by the Italian flight master Caproni (Stanley Tucci). As Jiro grows into a young aeronautics student, he lives through the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. He meets a girl named Naoko (Emily Blunt) during the melee, and they are destined to meet again.

Jiro becomes a successful airplane designer, but goes through a series of triumphs and failures during the 1920s and ‘30s, and through it all his best friend is fellow designer Honjo (John Krasinski). He encounters Naoko again on a business trip, and their reunion ends up in marriage. Naoko has tuberculosis, and her illness and Jiro’s eventual design of an aircraft the will be the main engine of Japan’s war efforts during World War II intersect, to create the next phase of a remarkable life.

“The Wind Rises” opens everywhere on February 28th. Featuring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Mandy Pantinkin, Elijah Wood and Stanley Tucci. Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ”The Wind Rises”

The Wind Rises
Jiro Strides into the History of Aviation in ‘The Wind Rises’
Photo credit: Touchstone Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of ”The Wind Rises”

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