Five years after the release of Ponyo, the news of a new Hayao Miyazaki movie sounded like a sweet melody in the ears of anyone who appreciates film. We were warned this one will be different. Miyazaki was delivering something new. And something new is what we got. The Wind Rises is no Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away: it’s the least fantastic Miyazaki movie, but the most down to earth. And it was beautiful in its own way.
The Wind Rises actually follows the real story of Jiro Horikoshi, the engineer who designed Japanese aircrafts during World War II. We get a glimpse of his childhood, his dreams, his love life, and most importantly, a look at a desperate Japan.
The Wind Rises is a movie with no precedent in Miyazaki’s career. A biography that feels magical even without dragons or talking wolves, where Miyazaki manages to capture the spirit of a country through the story of one man.
Just like Japan, Jiro lived during the Great Depression, witnessed the earthquake that leveled Tokyo, watched tuberculosis slowly take his loved ones away, and endured through the fascists rise to power. And just like Japan, Jiro lived on.
But Jiro isn’t a mere representation of a country; he’s also a man who has family, friends, idols, and love interests. And with the superb scenes of Jiro’s dreams with Mr. Caproni, the heartwarming love story between him and Nahoko, and finally, the monstrous representation of the earthquake, you start caring and relating to Jiro’s dreams, fears, and romance.
On a separate note, The Wind Rises mixes sound and picture beautifully. Even during times of tragedy, the world looks like a beautiful place. Perhaps that’s another message Miyazaki wanted to deliver, and that’s to find beauty during dark times, or it’s just because that’s what Miyazaki does, but The Wind Rises was visually gorgeous. You can easily lose yourself in all the colors, clouds, horizons, and so on.
Finally, even a biography done by Miyazaki feels magical. I think it was the wind, blowing throughout the movie and especially during the dream and romance scenes, that gave the movie its magical element. But again, each viewer can find the magic somewhere different than the other in a Miyazaki film, and that is, if you ask me, Hayao Miyazaki’s secret.
The Wind Rises tells the story of a country through the eyes of a man. Just like Valéry’s quote, « le vent se lève, il faut tenter de vivre », the movie captures the essence of the Japanese spirit, that refused to give up even after the numerous tragedies it went through. And although it’s a first in Miyazaki’s career, it was still magical, beautiful, and heartwarming. Thank you, Hayao Miyazaki, I really hope this is not your last.
Rating: 9.5/10. The story of a country through the eyes of a man, mixed with Miyazaki’s magic.