The Wind Rises - Blu-ray Review

'a film as in love with flight as it is with people; as emboldened by gigantic ideas as it is by gigantic actions. This is aspiration, not just in form, in what Miyazaki produces, but in concept: aspiration transposed to plot.'

The Wind Rises' magical, dialogue-free opening may be one of the best things I have seen this year, in a film that is up there with the best of 2013. The dreamlike realism, carefully crafted imagery and emotive score all serve to immediately plant you into a world where stunning creations are not just possible but everyday. It is engaging, thought-provoking and inspiring in a way that very few opening salvos ever are, and then writer/director Hayao Miyazaki pulls off a neat trick: he keeps all of that going for some one-hundred and twenty-six minutes.

Miyazaki's narrative aim here seems very clear. With the looming threat of war around the corner, and the inevitable repurposing of central character Jirô's beloved aircraft as weapons, the director wants us to remember a time when flight was less about murder and more about aspiration; a symbol of prosperous economic growth, scientific endeavour and childlike dreaming. The Wind Rises is a film as in love with flight as it is with people; as emboldened by gigantic ideas as it is by gigantic actions. This is aspiration, not just in form, in what Miyazaki produces, but in concept: aspiration transposed to plot.

This alone would be enough for me to declare The Wind Rises an instant hit, but Miyazaki manages two more things that elevate his film substantially. Firstly - and though I am by no means a Ghibli expert, I believe this is something of a staple - the director looks at everything twice through very warm human eyes, and then gives us the ability to do the same. The depiction of an earthquake puts films like 2012 to shame. In Miyazaki's eyes it is a roaring, searing interruption uninvited and unstoppable, a beast on the loose. On a more regular basis his object designs emphasise human characteristics, connecting us to concepts he clearly loves. Planes aren't cold objects any more, they converse with us in soft 'put-put' voices, welcoming us into well-appointed rooms, such as the flowery parlour on Caproni's mega-plane. One of his contraptions starts its engines with what sounds like the beginning of a monastic chant.

The second factor that marks this out not just from other animation but from other films is the subtext-level topics Miyazaki is both aware of and willing to discuss. Japan's economy for example, a subject closely linked to the pre and post-WWII eras, crops up nearly as often as planes do. Caproni, an Italian, talks of 'big dreams' for his workers, planes and business. Is he on the verge of discussing fascism? Marxism? Socialism? In a 'children's film'?! All are possible and all would not even enter the considerations of lesser films and film-makers. Jirô's belief in his creations as just that, as opposed to weapons, is both charming and also deliberately presented as a little naive. Miyazaki may not say it explicitly but there is some criticism here, something which seeps in during Jirô's difficult courting of and relationship with Nahoko.

In a film this beautiful, the wider discussion points almost don't matter, which is why Miyazaki deserves such praise for including them, when he could have easily presented one-hundred and twenty-six minutes of silence and still produced a masterpiece.




The Wind Rises is released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 29th September 2014.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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