Arts movie review

Animation with a lesson

Miyazaki’s film is a beautiful and controversial look into the life of Jiro Horikoshi

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The famous Japanese animator and director Hayazao Miyazaki returns with the new animated fantasy, The Wind Rises.


The Wind Rises

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Voice Cast in English Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, William H. Macy, Darren Criss

Rated PG-13

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The Wind Rises (Japanese: Kaze Tachinu) is yet another stunning film, proclaimed to be the last of master animator Miyazaki.

The controversial film, made for older audiences, is a fictional biography of a floaty, gentle warplane designer, Jirô Horikoshi, whose genius was employed to design Japanese fighter planes used during Second World War, including those used for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. If that is not enough, Jirô is a heavy smoker.

The movie takes us back to a Japan between wars, where Jirô, still a boy, starts dreaming of engineering beautiful flying machines. His idol, aircraft designer Giovanni Caproni, advises young Jirô of the potential that airplanes have for destruction when put to the service of war, but Jirô is a gifted engineer and designs warplanes anyway.

Miyazaki illustrates Jirô’s creative process with amazing grace. Jirô’s insights, beautifully depicted as intimate encounters with shapes and forms translated into brilliant designs, are drawn from the unconscious naturally as they emerge from his acute observation of the workings of his waking life.

Miyazaki is no stranger to depicting the feat of flying; his films have evoked the subject before. This time, he creates sublime aerial dream scenes in which reality and fantasy are interwoven, defeating fear, gravity, and scale amidst moving clouds and endless skies. The accompanying sounds of propellers and earthquakes are created by human voices, giving scenes a sense of surrealism.

The story also highlights the unforeseen effects of our actions. Jirô’s mind and heart are solely occupied by airplanes. Concerned with little else, he ignores the destruction that his creations can cause, emphasizing how a creative act can overtake awareness of the reality around us.

This film was a powerful reminder of the importance of understanding the consequences of our work and questioning the sources that enable us to “make our dreams come true.”