InTrans / Mar 31, 2016

The Wind Rises review: A story of love and war in Japan

Go! Magazine

Scene clips from The Wind Rises.

Inspired by the true life of warplane designer Jiro Horikoski during the Second World War, and the writings of Tatsuo Hori (who wrote The Wind Has Risen), the Studio Ghibli animated classic The Wind Rises breathes life into Japan’s historic past and illuminates the country’s descent into war.

Horikoshi (center) and members of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries design team (July, 1937).
Horikoshi (center) and members of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries design team (July, 1937).
Photo from Wikipedia

Our hero, the nearsighted Jiro, finds himself meeting the famous Italian aeronautical designer Gianni Caproni in his dreams. After Jiro realizes that he cannot become a pilot, a career in engineering is his one true chance at taking flight.

What can only be described as a historical canvas, legendary filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki draws a full and comprehensive tale of success and failure and love. Jiro’s muse, a young woman named Nahoko, grounds him in the world below—a constant source of love, inspiration, and perseverance. Away from dreams and the clouds, here is what lurks in the background: the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, years of depression, and the tuberculosis epidemic.

Jiro Horikoshi in The Wind Rises.
Jiro Horikoshi in The Wind Rises.
Photo from Flicker user Debris2008

As visually stunning as any of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece films—such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving CastleThe Wind Rises takes on more adult issues and difficulties. It is highly unlike the childlike virtues that accompany his other works, such as the 2008 film Ponyo.

However, the heavy issues of death, destruction, and failure are balanced by the light-hearted dreams of our hero, who unrelentingly believes in the value of determination and courage and in success at any cost.

The film opens with a quote from Paul Valéry’s poem “The Graveyard By The Sea”: “The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!”

The dream of flight is a grand one. And so, The Wind Rises takes viewers on a journey to the past and into the war of the warplanes.

This tale was first published by Miyazaki as a manga series in the monthly magazine Model Graphix from April 2009 to January 2010.

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Genre(s): Biography, Drama, History, Romance, War, Animation

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 126 min

By Brandy Haenlein, Go! Program Coordinator

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