I had to think about this one a lot before actually writing anything about it.
Was The Wind Rises actually good? I quite enjoyed it. Was it well made? Duh. Was it meaningful? I definitely think so. Was it what I was expecting? Not really, but then again I wasn’t expecting much, since the lapse of time between the first trailer and the actual release was long enough for me to forget what the film was supposed to be about.
Will The Wind Rises rank itself among my favourites?
… No. Not quite.
Now, after thinking about it over and over again, I’m not going to talk much about the movie’s political side. Yes, the movie takes place during the war and yes, Miyazaki does make one or two statements about Japan and the Second World War. However, while I don’t doubt that those statements do kind of represent what he thinks, he did not elaborate. I mean, the movie clearly avoids talking about the misery of the war. It does its best to not be about the war at all.
Because of this, I can see why the movie was controversial, especially for the people who are still waiting for Japan to make a strong statement about what happened during the war. As a non-Asian person who only knows so much about World War II, can I really talk about this? I don’t think so. I did feel uncomfortable during certain scenes, but it will take me several other viewings to fully analyze the film’s political statements.
I can talk about the rest of the movie right now, though. Watch out for minor spoilers ahead.
So, I don’t know if anybody else that is not an engineer enjoyed this movie quite as much as I did. It’s a movie about planes. I have a… very complicated relationship with planes. I hate them, but I also can’t stop thinking about them. I am scared shitless of flying, yet I constantly watch documentaries and other programs about plane crashes. So even if the whole movie is actually just a metaphor, I actually enjoyed the parts where they were talking about planes for themselves. Planes are awesome. And terrifying. And awesome.
Yeah, and the movie is a metaphor. It’s not really a spoiler, mostly because I think almost nobody out of Japan and the field of plane engineering knows who Jiro Horikoshi is. Hell, I didn’t even have a clue until after the movie, when I googled his name. The movie is very much about Hayao Miyazaki. And by that, I mean that every time someone will pronounce the protagonist’s name during the movie, you will literally say « I think you meant Hayao ». I’m not kidding: putting aside the fact that Hayao Miyazaki’s life was influenced both by planes and World War II, the movie is also about a man who will pursue his dream and his beliefs no matter what.
Jiro’s dedication to his dream is both what makes his character great and a big flaw of the story. People like him seem distant and cold, not affected by anything. It’s not that they don’t care, though, it’s that they’re too driven to let themselves be stopped by anything. I personally loved Jiro as a character, but I can see why people would find him creepy, unrelatable, and sometimes just unlikable. I mean, I may have maybe half of Jiro’s drive and most people I meet think I am an android. In most people’s imagination, dreamers like Jiro are sweet and a little silly, when in reality they’re sweet and completely insane. For that reason, it was a very good choice to surround Jiro with more grounded people. The secondary characters in this were all great and a lot of fun. Except…
Gn. Look. I usually love Miyazaki’s female characters. If anybody said Miyazaki has a problem with women, I would probably kick that person’s butt. However, it saddens me, Jiro’s wife is probably the weakest female character Miyazaki has ever written. You know I’m not joking because I don’t even remember her name. She is literally there to be adorable and then disappear. Yes, Jiro loves her, but he’s not affected by it. Or at least, it’s barely shown. This lady’s character was my biggest disappointment in the whole movie. It’s basically a huge part of what brought the movie down from « great » to « mostly good because I like planes and obsessive characters. »
The Wind Rises is not a bad movie. It’s long, yes, it’s slow, and the story and characters have their flaws, but I still think it’s important to watch it for any Miyazaki fan. It certainly lacks a lot of his usual political engagements, but it still says a lot about the man and it’s a compelling trip inside an artist’s brain, weird fantasies and frightening dedication included. Whether you agree with the choices Miyazaki made for the movie, I’d recommend you to watch it. Plus, I think this may well be the very last own, folks.
A world without a new Miyazaki. Can you imagine that?