Verdict: Hayao Miyazaki’s swan song is a marvelous work of art.
"Airplanes are beautiful dreams."
The films of Hayao Miyazaki are always a joy to watch. While watching his films, it isn’t surprising if you find yourself immersed in a cauldron of emotions. The signature style of art, characterizations and the humane way of storytelling make Miyazaki one of the giants of the Japanese animation industry.
"All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful". True to his words, Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Wind Rises is a miraculous gem of work. The animation is a Japanese war love story. It is inspired by the life of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical engineer who designed Mitsubishi’s A6M Zero fighter. Even though backdrop of the film is war, there aren’t any violent scenes or deaths in the entire film. Instead, it focuses on how a nearsighted Jiro strives to fulfil his dreams of building a "beautiful plane". Miyazaki subtly embodies the various aspects of war and its impact on the life of the Japanese people. Beneath the triumph and failures of Jiro, a tender, yet tragic love story underlines the film.
“Dreams are convenient. One can go anywhere," a flamboyant Caproni remarks. The dream sequences are exquisite. In Jiro’s reveries, he walks along the wings of a plane in mid-flight to examine its aerodynamics. He is guided by his mentor and inspiration, the great Italian aircraft designer, Count Gianni Caproni. The character looks dashing in a bowler hat and twirling mustache. They are kindred spirits and it doesn’t matter whether they have met in real life. The dream which they shared is stirring.
The visuals are breathtaking. Whether it is the dream sequences or the depiction of the Great Kanto earthquake, the details are intricate and dense. You can’t miss out on the excellent craftsmanship of Miyazaki. He plays with the colors and creates a live painting.
Most of Miyazaki’s previous work (like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle) have been appreciated by audiences of all ages. However, The Wind Rises, is mostly targeted toward adults. There is conflict, political controversy and destruction, unlike his previous films that dealt with childhood and joy.
Why should you watch the film?
Besides the fact that The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, you should watch it for the playful visions of a dreamer and an artist. Miyazaki brilliantly merges stark history and fantasy to create a dreamlike film. The film is inspiring yet heartbreaking. The Wind Rises is a marvelous, yet sad exit of a great animator of the contemporary times.