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The Wind Rises
Kaze tachinu
★★★★☆
First run Theater cinema

The Wind Rises is the final film from the acclaimed Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki.  It’s a departure for him, in that it is not an otherworldly fantasy but a historical drama. Yet Miyazaki’s distinctive, dream-like approach to storytelling is fully present in this biographical tale of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the A6M Zero aircraft used by the Japanese in World War II (most notably in the bombing of Pearl Harbor). While I have never been a great fan of Miyazaki’s pictures (Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away), I understand why they are loved by so many. Miyazaki creates magical worlds where the expected rules of physics, hierarchical authority, and narrative structure don’t apply. Through these extraordinary places he enchants his audiences and invites them to get lost inside his pictures. I’ve always had difficulty fully entering these fantasy worlds, which is perhaps why I responded so strongly to this more “grounded” story. The dreams of Horikoshi are the dreams of an adult engineer, rather than a child or an old man (the more typical protagonists for this filmmaker). Miyazaki makes fully tangible Horikoshi’s yearnings for flight and his desire to create something that is both beautiful and functional. The film pulls off an impressive tonal balancing act in lyrically celebrating the idealistic inventor of machines built expressly for death and destruction. The story is relatively free of traditional dramatic conflict; instead the tension is created in the mind of the audience. We’re engaged in Horikoshi’s passion for his work, his friendship for colleagues and family, and his love for his ailing wife, even though we’re always aware of what the ultimate outcome of his work will be. 

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by Toshio Suzuki

Screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki
Based on the comic book by Hayao Miyazaki

With: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Stephen Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, and Nomura Mansai

Music: Joe Hisaishi

Runtime: 126 min
Release Date: 21 February 2014
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Color