The Wind Rises
Hayao Miyazaki is one of the world’s great storytellers. For the past 30 years he has created films that have transported spectators from the depths of the ocean to the heights of the clouds, through worlds full of spirits, ghouls and unlikely heroes.
Miyazaki has often been compared to a modern-day Walt Disney – keeping the charm of animation that Disney lost somewhere in the 90s alive – until now, that is. The director, animator and screenwriter announced his retirement from film-making last September. The Wind Rises is his swan song: a historical tale based on the life of the aircraft engineer Jiro Horikoshi.
The film has attracted controversy due to its hero-like portrayal of Horikoshi, who designed warplanes used by Japan during World War II. The threat of war is looming and although Jiro is aware his creations will be used as weapons – gloomily repeating the phrase “Japan will blow itself up” – his pioneering mind is on invention alone.
Setting the troublesome protagonist aside, Miyazaki’s final farewell is charming, touching and completely bittersweet. Those expecting a trip to the magical worlds of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke will be disappointed at the sombre tone of the film, but the trademark frivolity is still there. Against a backdrop of impeccably animated impending doom, Jiro falls in love while throwing paper planes and dreams of jaunts with Italian plane designer Caproni. These sequences bring an elegant touch of Miyazaki magic to a film otherwise weighed down by devastation and despair.
The Wind Rises is about the complexities of creation and the temperamentality of the world. In creating his plane, Jiro fulfils a life ambition and pushes the boundaries of engineering, but as the film’s final scenes show, he has also caused countless deaths and comes to regret his invention.
In his own world of creation, Miyazaki has no such reasons for regret – but his retirement lurks in the shadows of Jiro’s desire to make his mark. One character tells Jiro: “Artists are only active for ten years. We engineers are the same. Live your ten years to the full.” Lucky for us then that Miyazaki, who has long outlived his ten years of artistry, is still able to fascinate.
The Wind Rises is released nationwide on 9th May 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Wind Rises here: