Joining Hayao Miyazaki for his final flight in The Wind Rises…
Despite being based on actual events, The Wind Rises is a fictionalised tribute to the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the aeroplane designer who created Japan’s fighter planes during WWII. The title is inspired by the work of author Tatsuo Hori, whose writing serves as a prelude to the story and was the basis for Hayao Miyazaki’s manga on the same topic.
Although it was seen as controversial in its native Japan, the film glosses over the more raw elements of the country’s WWII past. For the most part, the moralising is kept to extremely brief discussions between men who build planes as pieces of art, while being well aware of their overall wartime mission.
Still, Jiro’s story touches many aspects affecting Japan: the Kanto earthquake (where he meets his future sweetheart), economic depression, the start of WWII, as well as some more personal tragedies. If you’re wondering where all the lovable woodland creatures are – this being a Ghibli film – some of the tropes of Miyazaki’s more fantastical films remain. Monsters are heard in the grumbles and rumbles of the earthquake, while the director’s flights of fantasy are visible in both Jiro’s lucid night time dreams and daydreams that fill every sky with planes.
Extras aren’t as bountiful as we’d have hoped for this home entertainment release but what is included is well worth digging into. Miyazaki’s 90-minute press conference gives the director his say on the project, in the absence of dedicated interviews. Meanwhile, the film’s storyboards can be viewed using a picture-in-picture feature for instant comparison with what’s going on onscreen. The amazing level of detail in these visual guides should be no surprise for an animated feature. While they often match the scene exactly, eagle-eyed viewers will spot quite a few differences that didn’t make it into the final version.
A lot of care has also been taken with the English dub, which adds Western cultural differences into the dialogue between characters, compared with the more direct translation of the Japanese subtitles. Those opting for the dual-play (DVD and Blu-ray) Collector’s Edition bundle also get five exclusive postcards.
It’s the film itself that’s the real prize, though, acting as a beautiful high-flying send off for one of animation’s most amazing talents.