Friday, December 5, 2014

The Wind Rises




Let’s forget the fact that even though I am a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, it took me this long to see The Wind Rises. It is his final film. It is also different from what has come before. Not in how it looks, but in the story itself. This is not the story of a magical fantasy world. But it is a story about magic. This is not the story of a man who performs magic. Not in the fantasy sense anyway. But it is the story of the magic that comes from imagination. This is a story based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi who designed the Zero, the premier Japanese fighter plane in World War II

It is a simple tale of an engineer and an artist. Though it takes place in the real world, we still see Miyazaki’s fingerprints in the Jiro's dream sequences where his inspiration comes together. His canvas is the wind and the aircraft he would come to design. He has no illusion that what he would create, as beautiful as it was, would be a weapon of war and the bringer of death. But so do the engineers and designers of all war machines. Sometimes if not for the opportunities given them by governments, they would have no place else to perform their artistry. It’s a weird thought to consider the art and beauty of a war machine. But it is a surreal truth in this life.

This is also the story of how he falls in love. Love that would be lasting, but would only last in life for a short time with a woman who never had long to live. Nahoko, who became his wife, was ill with tuberculosis. In an interesting parallel, Jiro knew loving her would only bring him pain and loss. But like he could not deny the desire to create a beautiful flying machine that he knew would bring glory and then death to his country, Jiro could not deny the love he had for Nahoko. He knew how loving her and marrying her would end. But love cannot be denied. He loved Nahoko and he loved aircraft.

In his dreams Jiro meets and talks to his mentor, the Italian aircraft engineer, Giovanni Battista Caproni. Caproni tells Jiro that an artist is only inspired for a certain amount of time in his life. I have to wonder if this was also Miyazaki telling his fans something. This is Miyazaki’s final film. Maybe he could have continued, but this feels like his love letter to his fans and to his work. It is not a grand tale of adventure. It is the simple tale of a regular man who found his place in the world. I think we can all agree Miyazaki earned his place in our imaginations.

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