The Wind Rises
Is it good? Yeah, it is. I think I liked it more than the last 2 Ghibli movies I’ve seen, From Up on Poppy Hill and The Secret World of Arrietty.
Why? Well, let’s think what the film is. It’s a 2 hours biopic of someone more or less normal, not a film about heroes or drama or surprises or mysteries or an epic story. And the 2 hours passed flying in a moment, that’s the mark that it’s truly good. It’s almost perfectly paced and directed, I would say that’s its main virtue.
It gets to be entertaining and interesting movie about a aeronautical engineer, and it does thanks to all the passion about the main character’s dreams that the movie transmit to the viewer. It’s a film done with lots of passion about someone’s passion.
Of course it’s all idealized to represent Miyazaki’s own visions of dreams, reality sure was more prosaic. In a way it’s less a true biography of the designer Jiro Horikoshi and more an inspiration so Miyazaki could build his own part historical part fictional movie.
It also helps it’s a fucking beautiful movie, visually speaking. Background, foreground, mechanical animation, characters, animation in general, it’s pure big budget Ghibli visual fest. A must watch for animation fans.
The conflict between the ideal dream and the beauty of planes and just the beauty of someone pursuing his dreams and the reality of war and machines used in it, and the sadness at the end (“not even one came back”) is present in the film, but it doesn’t dominate it, it’s more a subdued theme that pops from time to time.
The romance is nice and sad and it gives you feels, but in a way it feels a concession to make the film commercial, giving the elements of love and tearful drama for making the story more universal. He just had fall in love with a girl with tuberculosis, sigh. :( But as nice and sad it’s, I feel it clashes a bit with the rest of the movie, as it’s a personal story, and the movie is mostly a larger than life story about dreams and passion and inherent inner conflict in humankind for the love of war devices even for people that don’t love war.
PD : about the voice acted sounds, one of the most polemic parts of the film. Yeah, they sound bad.
In a way, it serves to reinforce the reality: that the machines in Miyazaki films are idealized, romanticized version of the real thing, not real machines. Real machines are noisy, loud, cold, annoying. In the film the engines booping and roaring and tossing up sounds fake but they seem more like a real living being (precisely, because they are done by humans!), they seem to breathe and a have heart that beats, they have a warm rhythm in them, not a whiny superfast rhythm like in real life. We can suppose Miyazaki searched that in a film where machines are so important. My theory is once they decided for it, the rest of real sound effects surely clashed with the fake ones in a jarring way, so some additional sound effects like pieces of a plane crashing on the ground or the earthquake also were done with voices.