01st Oct2014

‘The Wind Rises’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf


Knowing a film is to be Hayao Miyazaki’s last is something you don’t really want to hear, but The Wind Rises shows why he is such a master of his art.  Studio Ghibli is a company that I regard as being the best at what they do, and that is no small thing when you think of their competition.  If this truly is his last film, then Miyazaki leaves us with a masterpiece.

Loosely based on the life story of Jiro Horikoshi the Japanese plane designer who created the Zero fighter plane used in World War 2 it is the story of hardship, and the effects of earthquakes, tuberculosis epidemics and economic depression on Japan that pushes them into the industrial age of war.  Horikoshi’s dream was to build planes at a time when something new was needed and he had the skill to do it.  Though his work would be used for war, for him it was not about the destruction that would be wrought, but the dream and inspiration of creating the new age of aviation even if it led to great evil.

There is a simple question asked in The Wind Rises, would you rather live in a world that had pyramids in it or without them? It is a cryptic question in ways but it shows the beauty of having a dream in a world of destruction.  Horikoshi’s work may have been funded by a government with the desire for war and aided by the Germans who themselves were looking towards building a destructive fleet, but the film makes a point of showing that not only Horikoshi but his idol Giovanni Battista Caproni (his advisor and mentor through his dreams) and the German designer look beyond the war to what their work truly was designed for and that is the people.

The Wind Rises is about the dream and the inspiration, there is an obvious anti-war message in the ugliness we see of the warmongers and oppressive nature of the German and Japanese governments with their use of secrecy and thought police trying to stifle the dreams of the creators.  The push for greater speed and more power has one aim, and that is greater destruction.  The tone of Horikoshi’s life though is the exact opposite, he has a battle for inspiration and life, even when his work and love are pushed into the world of death, and he fights on.  This almost feels selfish at times especially when it comes to the health of his life, but his priority in The Wind Rises is all about creation and love.

Hayao Miyazaki is a master of balancing the dark and light of his work and this is shown in The Wind Rises.  For Horikoshi there is heartbreak as well happiness and these are balanced to create a heart-breaking story that still feels strangely inspirational.  Where some of Studio Ghibli’s work looks to the fantastical like Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro, The Wind Rises pushes towards a world of reality and this gives it a more mature tone.  This isn’t the world of children but of adults, where grown-up choices have dangerous consequences.  As expected from Stupid Ghibli the art is beautiful, and may be some of their best work to date.  This to me shows the importance of the piece.

The Wind Rises is a work of Japanese art that shows a different perspective to the movement towards war, World War 2 and the battle of hearts and minds.  When it comes to the question of the pyramids, I find The Wind Rises to be proof that I’d rather live in a world where the pyramids exist so that true beauty can shine through.

***** 5/5

Masterpiece is a word that is often used too much for my liking but The Wind Rises deserves it. If this truly is Hayao Miyazaki’s final movie, what an impressive swan song it is.

The Wind Rises is available on DVD and Blu-ray now from StudioCanal.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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