The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises

  • Full disclosure: for various reasons, I watched the English dubbed version, not director Hiyao Miyazaki’s original Japanese cut.
  • The dub does not prevent The Wind Rises from being a quality film.
  • The animation is strikingly beautiful, in no small part because characters are realistically created.
  • Light sources and the shadows they create are visually impressive, as well.
  • So are the natural landscapes.
  • And the planes and buildings, amongst other objects.
  • But the best part is the details: the ways characters light matches, exhale cigarette smoke, write, hold the phone, catch objects from the air, and so much more.
  • The Wind Rises’ audio is as impressive as its imagery. Like directors of bygone eras, Miyazaki revels in natural sound effects like footsteps.
  • When he does play musical accompaniment, it is astoundingly well composed. Plus, it compliments his visuals. This is one of my favorite scores from 2013.
  • Too bad Miyazaki’s narrative doesn’t quite equal his filmmaking technique, though the story is far from bad.
  • Jiro (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is well developed and sympathetic, all the more so because he’s increasingly regretful of the havoc he knows his inventions will facilitate.
  • Therein is why the film resonates thematically. Through Jiro (primarily) Miyazaki highlights the ways humanity corrupts what ought be beautiful.
  • The director touches on several other themes, as well, many of them in his note-perfect resolution. This is one of the best endings of 2013.
  • Many of Miyazki’s secondary characters prove effective, especially Kurokawa (Martin Short), who provides much comic relief and is more compassionate than he first appears.
  • Horikoshi (Warner Herzog) is the weakest character. Not only is his introduction too dreamlike, but his departure is too sudden.
  • The other character that needed better development is Nahoko (Emily Blount). Despite the touching and amusing montage that starts her romance with Jiro, we do not see the characters’ love develop, which makes it hard to accept its supposed depth. Nor do we truly know Nahoko, at least not beyond her superficial characterization as a tuberculosis patient and loving wife.
  • Of course, it is hard to know exactly what is lost in translation.
  • No matter the flaws in Jiro and Nahoko’s romance, The Wind Rises is always captivating. It mightn’t be Miyazki’s best work, but it is good.
  • Final Grade: B
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17 thoughts on “The Wind Rises

  1. Nice review, pretty much where I landed on the film. Lacks the spark of Miyazaki’s best work but there’s still a lot to like!

  2. Nice review. For some reason I’ve never gotten into Miyazaki as most people have (I think I might be the only person who was unimpressed by Spirited Away), though I do love his striking animation style. This started playing right near me, so I will check it out.

  3. Meant to comment on this last night, think I closed the browser before sending it! I’m glad that the characters are developed well, and that it looks beautiful. Still haven’t got around to watching this one due to how slow it apparently is, but I hope too soon enough!

    • It is quite slow, but the pacing didn’t both me, personally. It is all in service of developing character. (Obviously, I think it has other flaws, though.)

  4. I normally can’t stand dubbed films as I grew up w/ some movies being dubbed to Indonesian. It’s just awful as I’d rather hear the original actors’ voices. That said, I’m still curious to see this one and though I’m not into anime, I think this one seems particularly striking to me. The story sounds intriguing as well.

    • I don’t like dubbed flicks either. And didn’t see it by choice. The Lagoon, it turns out, were screening both the original and the dubbed version, but their website didn’t clearly distinguish between the two. I was able to make a 4:00 o’clock show. It was the only show I was going to be able to get to do before the Oscars aired. (Life is not facilitating a whole lot of movies at the moment.)

      So I went to the one show I was able to attend. When I got there, after my drive to uptown and search for a free parking space, the Lagoon’s cashier told me I was going to see the dubbed version. Though reluctant and disappointed, I bought the ticket anyway – figured the English dub was better than no movie.

      But. My point is this: I’d have rather seen the original cut, too. And when you rent it, that is what I encourage you to do. 🙂

  5. The Wind Rises was a truly beautiful film and I really can’t wait to get to other stuff of his. If this truly isn’t his best work, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are about to blow my mind. I loved this film personally, and I actually thought the romance was pretty well established. It did seem hurried but in the end it sort of had to take a backseat to the career Jiro was experiencing. As in real life, sometimes things have to come in second place to work. And I thought the movie straddled that line quite well. Nicely reviewed, all the same!

    • Thank you.

      I think Miyazaki wanted to show the romance as secondary to Jiro’s career. And he did so, but in so doing, he also failed to develop Naoko. I’d argue that because we do not know her, I do not think we know why Jiro loves her so much.

      As to Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. They certainly blew me away. 🙂

  6. I felt very much the same way. It was ok, but the narrative plods after awhile, especially when stretching the story well past two hours. 90 minutes is the sweet spot for animated films.

    • Most of them anyway. There are probably some that manage to succeed at longer durations, and this, I think, might have been one of them, if it had focused a bit more on character.

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