The Wind Rises is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi‘s life, an aeronautical engineer who designed two fighter jets used by the Empire of Japan in World War Two. His own dreams of being a pilot are thwarted by his poor eyesight. This left him with a deep desire to take to the sky in other ways, through the designing and engineering of aeroplane. This is eventually overcome by greed, capital and war. The movie was a difficult and ambitious topic to cover, and almost impossible to approach sensitively from every side of the war. Regardless of the controversy, The Wind Rises was the highest grossing Japanese film of 2013, with numerous nominations and wins.
Within the first few chords of the movie soundtrack, I was spellbound. The animation of the opening scene; the attention to detail in all the complex backdrops and the suns reflection in the river as our protagonist Jiro flies over his hometown in a dream, is truly breathtaking, an emotion any Ghibli film is sure to inspire. Throughout the movie, a great deal of attention is paid to the elements: from the sudden earthquake where Jiro and his future wife, Naoko, meet for the first time, to the raging fire that follows and consumes Tokyo, as well as the power of the wind, foiling Jiro’s every attempt to create the perfect plane as well as reuniting him with his lover on vacation. This attention to detail provides a layer of realism to the movie, so much so that I was secretly smiling at every aeronautical victory.
The figure of Mr Caproni, an Italian aeronautical engineer, is an interesting motif to the movie. As the motivator of Jiro’s own wishes to become a plane designer, Caproni creates an element of comic relief in the movie, allowing for Hayao Miyazaki to weave a little more of his magic. The Wind Rises does not contain the same magic as other Ghibli movies possess, steering clear of the spiritual and magical creatures that tend to arise in a large number of the studios features, such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away.
Miyazaki said he was inspired to make The Wind Rises after reading a quote from Horikoshi; “All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful”. The film is both incredibly beautiful, and beautifully incredible, and I can promise you will leave the movie theatre with a sense of awe and wonder at the world we live in, as well as a desire, however fleeting, to go out and fulfill your hearts greatest desires. Named Miyazaki’s final masterpiece, it is truly unmissable.
The Wind Rises (2013), directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is released in cinemas in the UK by StudioCanal, Certificate PG.
The review was writted for The National Student in association with The Edge. www.thenationalstudent.com