The Wind Rises (2013)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Actors: Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto
Hayao Miyazaki is undoubtedly one of the best story tellers of our generation. The reason his movies are so compelling is the worlds that he creates. He has this style that nobody else has. But it isn’t just the style that sets him apart. Even among his own films, every universe is so unique to itself. Everything in that little universe makes sense, all of rules fit together, and we believe it no matter how fantastical or absurd it may be. He has this knack of combining the most fantastical elements with the truest of human emotion, to ultimately make the viewer connect with things they can’t even comprehend. That is why he is so revered. Unfortunately, I still haven’t completed his catalog as of yet. Which is why I decided to take a look at his final film (so far). To my surprise, the king of fantasy concluded his career with a biopic, with no fantasy elements whatsoever. That was the biggest shock of the whole film.
The Wind Rises is Miyazaki’s most mature and raw film to date. He tackles heavy topic without masking any of them with fantasy. Previously, Miyazaki was able to get his message across through the means of fantasy. Because sometimes making people relate to the most unrelatable thing to them is the best way to get a point across. It can put the issue in a new light, and give it an interesting perspective, and Miyazaki has been doing this for decades now. So it seriously surprised me why he decided to take this gritty take for this film. He deals with intense topics such as war, ideology, government, and deadly diseases. The characters in this film are put through real morally difficult situations that can affect so many people around them. Whether it be designing a fighter jet that will potentially cause massive havoc for the sake of the country, or treating a loved one, every issue has a very serious weight to it, and it is something that is very unusual for a Hayao Miyazaki film.
I really appreciated the way that Miyazaki decided to portray these events and issues. He did not sugarcoat anything. It was a dark time, and it deserved a real story to go with it. My issue is that these events were watered down because of the way the plot was structured throughout the first half of the film. The first and second acts of the movie had such a messy plot structure. It felt all over the place, and it did not have a clear direction to where it was heading. Only until the final quarter do we get a sense of where the film is going. Not only that, everything memorable about the film came from that final quarter. As Jiro is starting to design the final plane, that is when the film gets interesting. The most interesting aspect of the film is the moral dilemma that Jiro is put into with regards to his wife. He knows that he cannot be with her due to this massive project on his hands, and he also does not want her health to get worse. They both decided that they would rather spend these final days together rather than being apart and hoping that she would get better. It is a tough thing to decide, and Miyazaki portrays that struggle beautifully.
The Wind Rises is an interesting film. It is something I never expected to see from Hayao Miyazaki. I can’t say it is one of his best works. It is obviously very personal to him. I know how much he loves aircrafts and flying in general. The passion is seen all over the film. However, I think his inexperience with such real and raw stories has affected the buildup of this film. The first half of the film needs something to be desired. It plays a big role in my enjoyment of the film because it should have been an effective stepping stone for the gripping conclusion. The connection between the viewer and the characters should have been locked tight before the final quarter came to fruition. However, it failed to do that. I hope Miyazaki will follow up this film with another one that is even more mature, and filled with more passion.