Watching "The Wind Rises"
Published on March 13, 2014 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Hayao Miyazaki movie "The Wind Rises."

Here's an excerpt:

"The final film from legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, 'The Wind Rises' is strikingly beautiful but also unsettling, a dreamy, ambiguous biopic about the engineer who developed fighter planes used by the Japanese Empire in World War II. Days after seeing 'The Wind Rises,' I can’t decide if the film confronts a dark chapter in Japanese history, or whitewashes that history. Maybe it does a little bit of both.

Animation-wise, 'The Wind Rises' is as captivating as anything in the Miyazaki canon, with flying scenes that are intricate, kinetic and colorful. It’s also Miyazaki’s most adult film, and lacks the fantastical creatures and wise children who typically populate his films. At times, the film feels like a cross between an old-fashioned romantic melodrama and a quirky fable about a plucky artist determined to bring his vision to fruition. In other words, this is not a film for kids, who might be bored by movie’s more languorous passages, which often involve watching the engineer, named Jiro Horikoshi, study airplane designs and offer his thoughts on rivets and fuselage. At its most basic level, 'The Wind Rises' is an especially elegant and visual stunning ode to science and math.

But it’s a lot more than that, and I sometimes wondered whether Miyazaki had bitten off more than he could chew. The film opens when Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a boy in rural Japan, eagerly reading aviation magazines, stargazing and dreaming of the day he can build airplanes of his own. At his first job, where he’s assigned to build a fleet new airplane for the military, he’s regarded as a genius, so consumed by his work that he neglects his personal life. When he later announces that he’s engaged, his boss roars with laughter, saying, 'We thought you would marry an airplane!'"

Click here to read the whole thing.

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