This is the quote that opened Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, The Wind Rises. I love this man’s movies; there is nothing else like them out there. I was happy I had the opportunity to see it in the theater as a small way of honoring this man. If you’ve never seen his movies, you need to check him out. Yes, the movies are animated, but they are unique like nothing else you’ve ever seen. While Miyazaki is Japanese and his movies fall under the label of anime, they look nothing like other movies in that medium. I know people who do not care for anime who still love Miyazaki’s work.
The Wind Rises is a controversial movie in Japan. The movie is about Jirô Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who was an aeronautical engineer during World War II. This was definitely a movie for D. He loves airplanes and connected with Horikoshi’s fascination during the movie. In the beginning, we see Horikoshi as a young boy with glasses. It’s not said outright, but this boy knows he will never achieve his dream of being a pilot with poor eyesight. Then, he has a dream about a famous Italian aeronautical engineer who tells him, if he can not fly, he can design flying machines. Horikoshi’s path is set.
The movie hardly mentions a war. Instead, if focuses on Horikoshi’s artistic heart. He is not depicted as anything other than a lovesick man who love flight and is fascinated by airplanes. His genius is eventually used to build planes that fly in World War II. Personally, I saw nothing that I thought would offend anyone. But then, I don’t know a lot about Japanese politics. I decided to do some Googling to figure out why people labeled Miyazaki as ‘anti-Japanese’ and a traitor because of this movie.
According to an article in the LA Times, the new prime minster of Japan has a plan to allow for a full-fledged military to boost Japanese self-defense forces. Miyazaki published an essay expressing his disagreement. These were the comments that had people calling Miyazaki a traitor. The Wind Rises was released in the middle of this political debate and discusses aspects of that time that mirror today. The movie discusses a poor economy and a devastating earthquake that hit the island nation before World War II. Those events are very similar to today. Maybe the people of Japan think his movie speaks against the creation of a bigger military. After all, the main character has no taste for war.
The same article mentions that Miyazaki was inspired to make The Wind Rises by a quote from Jirô Horikoshi: “All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful.” I think The Wind Rises is a testament to artist everywhere. The world might make assumptions about the meaning behind an artist’s work, but most artist just act on a compulsion to create. Let the world say what it will. Controversy will come and go, but artists will always act on their desire to create through whatever medium they choose.
The Wind Rises gets 5/5 stars for me. While I still rank Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind as my favorites, this movie comes in third. The story and animation was fantastic. I highly recommend you go see it. In particular, pay attention to the sound effects. The spin of propellers is like a crowd whispering. The earthquake sounds like the earth in mourning. D and I believe all the sound effects are the voices of people. It fits in the movie so well. Everything is alive in The Wind Rises. I have nothing but praises to sing for the movie.
The wind is rising! We must try to live! - Paul Valéry