The Hayao Miyazaki Collection: Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind - Blu-ray Review

'Where The Castle Of Cagliostro is a blatantly light-hearted caper set over a few days, this deals with an Earth 1,000 years after the fall of the industrialised human race'

It's difficult to believe the difference in quality between the first and second films chronologically in this set but then, there was a fairly sizeable gap of five years between them for Hayao Miyazaki to work on his craft. Released in Japan in 1984, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind has the epic title to match its attempted epic scope. Where The Castle Of Cagliostro is a blatantly light-hearted caper set over a few days, this deals with an Earth 1,000 years after the fall of the industrialised human race and the attempts of small pockets of survivors to carry on with their existence, both at odds and in harmony with the new natural world order.

Heroine Princess Nausicaä proves to be a typically strong, well-rounded Miyazaki protagonist, taking pro-active choices in order to try to better the situation of her people: peace-loving survivors resisting the toxic air because of their location in the titular coastal wind-swept community. The joyous scenes of her sweeping around on a glider call to mind the joy of flight shown in The Wind Rises, the last film of this set, though the message is very different. Backed by the WWF, this is an eco-fable, clearly preaching a positive message of respect to nature in all its forms.

Whilst many people do love Nausicaä, and though its quality is obvious, I must admit that I did not find it immediate and at times found the pacing rather arduous. Miyazaki draws out the threads and differences between Nausicaä's peace lovers, the war like Tolmekian and the somewhere-in-between people of Pejite with trademark patience that verges on narcolepsy. By the time Nausicaä is explaining to the latter group why they are wrong - well into the third act - you'll be apoplectic that people still aren't listening to her common sense. Perhaps that is indicative of our real world experience of conservation, but it does make for a frustrating watch. Meanwhile, the occasional broad strokes of the characters can jar with the subtleties elsewhere. The Tolmekian's arrive with such ridiculously ill-explained brute force and opposition to the lovely valley dwellers that they may as well be accompanied by pantomime boos.

There is though lots of great work and you suspect that this may be a film that grows on multiple watches (this was my first). The Star Wars-alike opening (a shrouded figure pokes amongst ruins on two Tauntaun-like creatures) is another example of how Miyazaki treats animation with a terrific understanding of and dialogue with live action. The subdued amber palette of the valley-dwellers sees the director suppressing his natural lean towards flamboyance to build up the natural vs un-natural world tropes, emphasised when the cold steel of the Tolmekian's arrive. The glowing, insidious large terror which literally melts down at one point, is nuclear weaponry personified.

There's also more than a nod late on to Shakespearean narratives, as the military leader of the opposing force harbours wishes (relayed to us via soliloquy) for his own advancement and his superiors' fall. It's one of a plethora of touches which show Miyazaki gaining his footing. Though the innocent natural message may be obvious the delivery is not and the craft here can be exemplary.

The Hayao Miyazaki Collection brings together all 11 of the director's feature films, from The Castle of Cagliostro to The Wind Rises, on Blu-ray for the first time. It is released in the UK on Monday 8th December 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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