Friday, May 23, 2014

"The Wind Rises" is a Great Farewell To The Master of Dreams

Four Stars

Say goodbye to the grand master of dreams. I’ll miss Hayao Miyazaki. I’ll miss the magic, and I’ll miss the wonder. He is retiring, and his final film “The Wind Rises” is magical without being magic based. It’s based on a true story, something new for Miyazkai. Though, it has its usual theme. That thin line between good and bad, and a kind of belief that everyone has some good in them, as most of his villains are good people. However, when Miyazki’s guys are good, they are really, really good. No one creates more lovable characters than he does. The man is a master storyteller, which usually leaves the Pixar guys in awe.  His final film, “The Wind Rises” is interesting, because you feel that if this is his final film, he’s going to have his say, which is obvious in little scenes he has in this film. I am reminded of “Grave of The Fireflies”, which he didn’t direct but produced, a film the great Roger Ebert called one of the greatest war movies ever made.
This story centers on Jiro Horiskoshi, a young man who wants to be a pilot. Due to his bad eyesight, it isn’t happening but he instead becomes one who designs planes. He has wide eye optimism, as he simply wants to make planes. He doesn’t know that the planes will be used for war, but at the same time, kind of does. He does know that he loves them as machines and dreams of taking flight. He dreams of his hero, an Italian plane designer named Caponi.

This definitely feels like his last film. I can tell because of all the little commentary he slips into it. His criticism of war and violence is nothing new, as seen in “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Princess Mononoke”. The film ends on the note that Jiro isn’t completely happy with what his planes, which he lovingly designed, are used for. Between the magic of Miyazaki’s movies, there’s always been a hint of commentary. Nature shouldn’t be messed with. Girls can be strong as guys. Evil is never complete evil.

There’s nothing I can really say about the visuals. Every movie Miyazaki produces is beautiful to look at. Every detail is so worked on that you forget your watching an animated film. No one gets you more emotionally invested than Miyazaki in an animated film, except for maybe Pixar.  That being said, there’s a reason that Pixar worships Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki’s production house. They take many cues from him on how seriously they should take an animated story.
There’s a love story, once again not unusual for Miyazaki, but also this one has a sad part to it. Something one notices while watching Miyazaki movies is his love stories never really stick. “Spirited Away” and  “Princess Mononoke” both have love stories that aren’t going to stick or maybe they will. “Princess Mononoke” leaves it open.

It’s hard to write about Miyazaki’s last film without talking about his other work. I loved the fact that he chooses such a realistic story to end his film career. However, whether magical or non-magical, Miyazaki has the same themes throughout his films. This one is no exception. One sees the sadness and hope throughout Jiro’s life. Tragic and happy, Miyazaki’s films, at the end of the day, are about people and that’s why you forget you are watching animation. “The Wind Rises” is one of this year’s best films. The end of a career built on magic and great storytelling which will missed at the movies.

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