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article imageReview: Miyazaki's The Wind Rises wins with more mature political message Special

By David Silverberg     Sep 16, 2013 in Entertainment
If you're a long-time Hayao Miyazaki fan, you know his films are often heavy on the fantasy, tinged with real-life history lessons. But in his final film The Wind Rises, the Japanese filmmaker creates his most mature and least kid-friendly work to date.
Be warned, this is a slow film. But that's half the reason to enjoy the last film Miyazaki claims he will ever produce. The long draw of The Wind Rises paints a poignant picture of one man's dream to surpass his country's low expectations as WWII begins to hover in the horizion.
The film screened at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.
The Wind Rises is a fictionalised portrayal of the inventor of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane, used by the imperial Japanese navy during the Second World War. Jiro just wants to make airplanes, and his engineering passion soon has him working for the Japanese military. He tries to excel at his craft despite his country's stubborn refusal to create advanced technologies. More than once, Jiro is told how backwards the Japanese government can be.
No room for subtlety in this film, as Miyazaki shakes off the tender brushstrokes he planted throughout Spirited Away and Ponyo, instead saying outright why the futility of war has cost so many lives in Japan.
A love story also brews underneath Jiro's rise to aeuronautical fame, and those scenes become some of the most tender moments in all of Miyazaki's films.
Strong animation has always been a hallmark of his oeuvre, and The Wind Rises continues that tradition by drawing realistic landscapes complemented by humans making all the scene sounds (not digital). Once again, a Miyazaki film is not merely a means of storytelling, but a work of art. It's easy to get your eyes lost in the animated beauty of some frames while important dialogue plays out in the landscape's foreground.
It's apparent Miyazaki wanted to ruffle a few Japanese feathers with this last film, and ruffle he did. But for filmgoers, we get to enjoy a fascinating story laid over gorgeous animation, and as always Miyazaki makes us think long after the final credits roll.
More about the wind rises, Tiff, Miyazaki, Japan, Earthquake
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