|No disappointment here for anybody that appreciates the symbolic and emotional impact of Miyazaki's trains.|
In the midst of the typical glut of gag driven, uninspired, and contrived Hollywood Animated Movies, comes a fresh Miyazaki masterpiece, "The Wind Rises." Finally released here in Singapore, I watched it last night and could not have been more pleased. The artwork of the trains alone is worth a glowing review, but this is topped off by the interesting story about Jiro, the famous designer of the WW2 fighter plane, his ambitions, the state of Japan from 20's to the late 30's, and lastly a poignant (yet historically fabricated) love story. The contrast to other animated movies was set perfectly and immediately by showing a handful of trailers for upcoming animated movies, including Rio2, which promises absolutely nothing outside overly timed gags, cliches, and tired parody. I was expecting to see a matrix slow motion shot in there.
|Jiro's love story with Nahoko serves the story well, giving the work obsessed airplane designer a distinct humanity.|
Where other animated features rely on quit hit gags (even if they are funny), celebrity voices, and ridiculous broadway antics (that I think nobody ever enjoys), The Wind Rises is held up by sweeping panoramas, patient timing, smart storytelling, and sincere characters and acting. Everything about this movie screams sincere! You get the feeling that you are being treated as a very intelligent person, a very engaged person, one who is ready to be told a great story with fantastic imagery to match. Some of the artwork was literally breathtaking. There's plenty of caricature and cliches, but they are used effectively as a story telling tool, and not sloppy fuel for a throw away gag engine.
|Jiro studies an imagined wreck of his dream. Many of the most effective scenes in "Wind Rises" were dream sequences.|
There are subtle moments in this film that I think are the greatest achievements of not only Miyazaki, but of the animation medium. When the main character, Jiro, looks into the distance as his prized ambitions are flying directly in front of him, the viewer understands the drama of the moment, the subtle suggestion of the war saturated future and destruction of Japan. This type of subtly springs up time and time again in this film creating an overwhelming feeling of an impending force that the current story is contributing to. Compare this to some of the blatant "on the nose" approaches to his earlier work, and you can see just how far this auteur has come in his legendary film career. I've always believe that subtly is the mark of a great storyteller. For the audience to understand what is happening clearly, particularly within an emotional context, with a minimal amount of screen information is a truly a masterful skill. My other favourite Miyazaki film "Kiki's Delivery Service" uses many of the same wonderful forms of subtly and character sincerity. Any film that can make a little girl that rejects her grammas pie into a demon more horrible than any big gnarly monster is a result of a master.
The Professor is happy to give this film an "A."