Title: The Wind Rises
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
My Rating: 5/5 (would give it a 6/5 if I could!)
This last film of Miyazaki is based on a real figure, Jirohorikoshi, the Japanese aeronautical engineer who designed the Mitsubishi Zero, Japan's predominant fighter plane during WWII. It was used in many air assaults in China, and also the Pearl Harbor attack.
Despite the film's sensitive subject politically and historically speaking, Miyazaki expresses through the film an overwhelming sense of beauty and pride.
Instead of telling the story of Japan's attempts at plane construction through a historicizing narrative, Miyazaki made the magical choice of adopting a very personal point of view from Jiro the engineer. From Jiro's narrative, Miyazaki tells not only the stories of a plane, but of a young boy's desire to fly, to follow his dream, and to make his country a better and stronger one. The Japanese society at the time of the story was a turbulent one, one filled with social malcontent, natural disasters, and political and economic unrest. Mayazaki unreservedly shows this dark side of his society's past, which gained my sympathy. On the other hand, he also shows the breathtaking beauty and simplicity of life during that epoch: the picturesque countryside with its green grasslands, ripening fields, and traditional Japanese architecture, accompanied by the evocative music composed by Joe Hisaishi, every minute of the beauty is exuberant with a national pride and patriotism that is natural, modest, yet very much heartfelt.
The film is also extremely touching in that it tells a tragically beautiful love story that is tangled with the nation's destiny. The love in the story is depicted with such simplicity yet is extremely convincing, in that it is also expressed with a kind of utmost sincerity that makes us wonder if we can still find love like this in today's society. Just like the love element is a personal aspect of the story, so is Jiro's own dreams of designing beautiful airplanes. In the film, he explains that he never meant for them to go to war, and he is at a loss when he realizes that none of his beautiful designs came back after taking off.
This film is a must-see, it will move you in a way that you have long forgotten existed. Your heart will simply go out to the characters. For this reason, I was very sad to learn that the movie is censored in China because of its sensitive subject, however this film is not about politics. It is maybe somewhat about war in that it shows war's inhumanity and ugliness, and it is above all else about a brave quest for dreams and a yearning for beauty.
Le vent se lève... il faut tenter de vivre!