The Wind Rises marks the first time I’ve seen a Studio Ghibli movie on the big screen. Considering that it’s the last film from the studio to be directed by Hayao Miyazaki it seems fitting that this be the title I see on the big screen. The film is currently being released in UK cinemas, so I went along to Leeds screening to see what the film was all about.
The studio has a rich history of turning out visually striking films that capturing the audience with heart warming tales. From more simple slice of life tales like My Neighbour Totoro to more somber affairs like Princess Mononoke, whatever Miyaskai puts his hand too generally turns out a masterpiece in its own right. So, with such a rich history behind it and an director taking his last stand, just how does The Wind Rises measure up?
The Wind Rises tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, a famous Japanese plane designer. It’s a fictionalised take on the designers life, and it’s the first time Miyazaki has directed a film for an older audience. To begin with the film is a little disjointed in its story telling. To begin with it shows us Jiro as a kid and then skips ahead to him on his way to university. The Wind Rises skips ahead quite a lot to show us key moments in Jiro’s life. In the beginning this seems a bit shaky and doesn’t feel like it’s going to work, but once you settle into it the idea works rather well. We’re shown the important moments of Jiro’s life, meeting the girl h falls in love with, creating his first plane and the many trails that he encounters along the way. It all slots together really well and Miyaskai has done a brilliant job of making sure all aspects of Jiro’s life are focused on as equally as possible. The film has a slightly steep runtime at just over two hours, but the time is used well and it definitely wouldn’t have been as impacting if cut down to even an hour and a half.
Miyazaki is most famous for his family friendly and more childlike stories of fun and adventure, but The Wind Rises is definitely not one the kids would enjoy. Sure, it’s not unsuitable for a younger audience by any means, but it’s not the kind of film that kids will ‘click’ with. It’s not the Spirited Away we know him for, The Wind Rises offers very little for the younger audience and they won’t appreciate the long runtime, but that works in its favour for an older audience. The Wind Rises is a more mature work than what we’ve seen from Miyazaki before. It’s more thoughtful, slower than anything they director has previously done and a lot more… emotional. Even though the film skips ahead a lot in time to focus on different aspects of Jiro’s life it doesn’t overwhelm us with introducing character after character like some films do. No, The Wind Rises builds up its cast very quickly and then sticks with them so you can explore this world and Jiro’s life with them. This is definitely a credit to the film because by the end you’re, hopefully, very emotionally attached to Jiro and his story.
Of course the story and cast aren’t the only credit to The Wind Rises as Studio Ghibli have done an amazing job with their animation as always. The film isn’t that demanding in terms of quality, there aren’t a great deal of scenes that cry out for impressive artwork, but those that do are doing extremely well. Early on as Jiro is heading toward his university Tokyo experiences an earthquake (the earthquake in question is the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake) which levels Tokyo in places. This is one of the scenes where Ghibli’s animation really stands out as only a studio like theirs could pull these scenes off and leave so much impact on the viewer without actually focusing on it too much. Throughout The Wind Rises a number of big events happen around Jiro, but the film doesn’t dwell on them too long which again works in its favour because it works really well. Miyazaki has done such a good job here that even the smallest of events will leave an impact on the viewer one way or another.
The soundtrack for the film is provided by Joe Hisaishi who has worked on most of Miyazaki’s best works. The soundtrack isn’t that memorable, at least not compared to past works, but it does come in at a massive 31 tracks and stands on its own rather well. During the film the soundtrack stands out here and there to off some very nice piano pieces and fun tunes to tap along to, but for the most part it just blends in with the film. It’s certainly not a bad thing to blend in, but it’s just not Joe at his best.
The Wind Rises is a risky move for the Miyazaki, as in a lot of ways it’s moving away from everything we best know him for, but at the same time the risk is utterly worth it as I can say without a doubt that this is Miyazaki’s best work. He’s created a masterpiece in a lot of ways and will be remembered for it. In a lot of respects The Wind Rises is the perfect film to be the directors last and is a brilliant work that Miyazaki can be proud of.
In closing: The Wind Rises is one of the best works Miyazaki has ever turned out and it will be remembered for a very long time to come. Sure, it doesn’t appeal to the younger audience as much as his past work, but Miyazaki has grown and this is the perfect film to be his last. The Wind Rises is an outstanding film and even those who normally don’t appreciate anime will find something to love here.
- Overall 10
- Animation 8
- Story 9
- Soundtrack 7
- Characters 10