TIFF 2013: The Wind Rises (2013)

After being able to get my tickets for Hayao Miyazaki‘s newest animation The Wind Rises, the news that it was his last movie came out that evening (at least when I knew about it). It made the whole wait so much more worthwhile and the excitement to see this tripled (if not more).  The showing I saw was the last showing on the last day of TIFF at 9am in the morning.  Right before I had to head back home.

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Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Cast: Hideaki Anno, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura

Based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi who was the chief engineer of Japanese fighter plane designs, the story is about his life as a young boy who dreamed to be a pilot but due to his nearsightedness, he learned that he could be a aeronautical engineer.  He followed his passions and graduated which lead him to work in Mitsubishi Combustion Engine Company Ltd.  From there, we look at his life and his genius talents of creating the jets that would eventually fight in World War II and his path to the success to his first creation.

Le vent se leve. Il faut tenter de vivre – Paul Valery

That quote on the top is the essence of the movie based on a quote by Paul Valery translated: The wind rises, we must try to live.

To be clear, I’m not a very knowledgeable person of Japan’s historical figures especially not during World War II.   Therefore, how accurate this story is of Jiro Horikoshi is unknown to me but doing a bit of research before writing this up, its apparently very much fictionalized.  Probably because of the romance thats inserted in it and well certain events, such as the roots of his imagination and creation that inspires and motivates him throughout the movie.

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As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Miyazaki.  Above everything, this movie was a feast for your eyes.  The animation is absolutely stunning.  I’ll try to show a few of the screenshots that don’t reveal too much as to not ruin the experience if and when you end up seeing it.  As we move through Jiro’s life, we see the background color match the tone that the movie wants to take.  Every scenery, catastrophe, backdrop, etc, every single detail is done really well. Its enchanting at times and dramatic at others.

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One of the first things that captured me was the passion. You can feel the love of airplanes in Jiro.  His love for everything related to it and the aspiration to be the first to make Japan stand out instead of being called copycats of European technology.  The conversations between the characters left with a bit of irony at times but also a lot of encouraging messages to follow your dream especially because time is limited (to sum it up).  Its interesting to see the portrayal of the main character be absorbed in the way that not only in real life, he revolves around figuring out how to make great fighter planes but also he would dream and visualize his plans as he draws them.  I’m not an engineer so I wonder if thats how the thought process works.

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The supporting characters themselves, aside from Jiro are charismatic and give us a lot to love.  They bring in an array of emotions that really touch the audiences heart whether through laughter, smiles or even sorrow.  I actually enjoyed the introduction of how he meets his love interest and the things that they did.  The concept of living despite the hindrances in life that do occur.  Being able to balance between passion and love and understanding how to do things with no regret.

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If I were to criticize one thing for The Wind Rises, I’d have to say that the story falls short a little.  I found the story still very well done but its not as clean cut and easy to understand as other Miyazaki movies.  In this one, the years jump forward unannounced throughout the movie and we have to assume the time frame that everything happens and for a bit in the middle, it somewhat drags a little.  Maybe it was because I was tired but I’ve never felt that way for any Miyazaki movies before.  Although, having an overemotional couple sitting next to me sniffling even in the not yet dramatic part all the way till the end did affect my overall movie experience.  However, only for that little while of about a 15 minute frame, it felt a bit longer but before and after that part, the story is engaging to watch.

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I can’t help to think that this also includes a farewell to the audience especially when the dialogue of artist saying something about an artist’s creativity peaks for 10 years or something along those lines.  Plus, he places an artist in the movie as well. Maybe there’s more to it.  I probably will have to get it when it eventually comes out and watch it again to grasp the meaning a bit more.

The Wind Rises may have a bit of a little not as fluent storytelling, however the way its told is compelling and engaging.  Witnessing the events that affected Japan as they slipped downwards and the sudden preparation for WWII in the background of giving the biopic of Jiro Horikoshi. Even though it may be fictional, Jiro’s portrayal was done well and also supported by a great set of characters. I recommend this movie because of the passionate “follow your dream” messages as well as the visually stunning animations that almost bring every devastation to success to life whether it be humans, animals, planes, nature and other landscapes.

**On the side note, this being Miyazaki’s last film affects me quite a bit.  Its also contributes to bit of bittersweet feeling as the movie was ending.  As much as I’d love for him to continue making movies, he is getting older and after listening to a bit of his press conference, I somewhat understand that its probably what he feels he needs.  This project really reflects him and his passion for airplanes, especially his respect and praise for Jiro Horikoshi. I’m really grateful that I managed to see this on the big screen.  If you happen to get a chance to see it, I urge you to try and get tickets!**

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