A look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II.
The Wind Rises, the final film from the famed Japanese animation director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki, is a nice send off for a great career in what is arguably his most personal film to date. The film is a fictionalised retelling of the story of Jiro Horikoshi, a reknowned Japanese aircraft designer, and is clearly designed with adults in mind, rather than children. There’s a lot to like about the film, but it suffers from pacing problems and struggles to successfully contrast its love story and the building of Jiro’s first aircraft, as it tries to do. The love story is part of the problem, and whilst I suspect some of the problems with it may have came in the dubbing process, it’s overly cheesy, rushed and doesn’t register as it’s intended too.
Usually, dream sequences in films and other media don’t capture my attention and often feel like a plot device, but in The Wind Rises, they’re the strongest scenes. There’s something about the nostalgic conversations between Jiro and an Italian plane designer called Caproni that works both on the level of the film and it’s themes, but also acts as a strong metaphor for Miyazaki’s career. These scenes feel very personal and really help the film to leave an impression. And to an extent that’s the issue with the film for me – the sequences where Jiro is focused on building his plane are strong throughout and especially powerful when it focuses on the contrast between building a beautiful aircraft, and the destruction these planes would go on to cost throughout the second world war. The love story the film tries to tell feels flat in comparison.
It goes without saying that the animation is wonderful, beautifully rendering an image of pre-war Japan, and truly excelling in the flight and dream sequences. As I mentioned, I saw this in a dubbed screening and I’d far rather have seen it subtitled which creates a far more immersive experience in my opinion. This is a fitting final film for Hayao Miyazaki, flawed but ambitious, a phrase that could be accurately used to describe his wonderful career and contribution to animation.
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki
Voiced By (English Language): Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin and Werner Herzog