The Wind Rises Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2015
Miyazaki's farewell is this lyrical, more adult and very personal project that, though technically splendid and paying an incredible attention to details, may be more appealing to himself as an artist than to most people, with also too many dream scenes that make it feel a bit repetitive.
Super Reviewer
March 9, 2014
A aeronautical engineer dreams of building the perfect plane.
Slow and meandering, this film's central conflict is more technical than human, more a matter of engineering, an aspect into which the audience has no reference, than universal. While there are some sections in which we get fine interpersonal conflicts, the majority of the film involves Jiro conversing with his dream characters, and there's little to stand in the way of the love plot, thus little source for conflict.
Many critics have written about the film's beauty, and I can't see what they're referring to. Many times I thought that the film didn't take advantage of all the creative liberties that animation could allow.
Overall, when characters' central conflicts relate to their jobs, the audience must be able to participate in the suspense, and that's not the case with The Wind Rises.
Super Reviewer
½ February 23, 2014
'The Wind Rises'. I'm left feeling like I'm mourning something beautiful. The animation is uniquely magical, with its painted backgrounds, sense of motion and emotion. The sound design is to be noted. Miyazaki's words are pure poetry at times. The romance, up there with the best this year.

"Hikoki-Gumo", the song that plays over the end credits, couldn't be any more perfect, sealing the melancholy of the prior 20 minutes right in.

Minor pacing issues keep it from being flawless.
Super Reviewer
½ February 23, 2014
Hayao Miyazak's final picture is a wonderful film about the life of Jiro, a dreamer of becoming a plane engineer, creating designs to fight in the war. Along the way, he has visions of a visionary plane engineer who has inspired him, and he meets a girl he knew from the past who does not have much time left. This film will bring tears to your eyes, purely out of the sheer truth it has surrounding it. It is surely deserving of it's Oscar nomination. The story is very well told, the American voice actors do a great job, and the visuals are fantastic as always. It may not be my favourite anime, but I really loved watching it. I do believe that the film would have been boring without the romantic subplot, so I am glad it was in there. Overall, it is genuine with all of it's intentions. "The Wind Rises" is a beautiful picture, I highly recommend this film.
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2013
Between the wars, apolitical young Japanese engineer Jiro (literally) dreams of building magnificent aircraft; he ends up working for the navy as World War II approaches. Hayao Mizyaki's (likely) final film is a realistic (if sentimental) historical drama for adults; the story drags occasionally, but the artwork is as good as ever.
Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2013
The Wind Rises explores the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. A story primarily driven by it metaphors to display it character passion more so than with actual words. Grounded in reality to illustrate Jiro has a career goal set in sight, but rather aimless when it comes to his personal life. This aimless drive translates to the free flowing pacing moving from year to year. It never specifies specifically what year scenes or an act takes place in its insistent to flow like the wind. Much like the usage of it wind plot device, the pacing only ever stops moving forward when an historical event becomes invasive. Intruding on Jiro's passion alluding the negative implications of his creations. Jiro ponders the impact his creation has, but never explicitly told to the audience what those thoughts are. The film has an encouraging complexity that results in occupying this troubling space, with the idea that art has an inherent potency and power that, like anything that contains embedded energy, can be manipulated or misused by the hands of its beholder. Structuring it whole story where opposing views of Jiro's creation and how Jiro sees his own work is understood. Sometimes in order in order to make a plane fly you need to compromise parts before it can soar. A work ethic that Jiro takes to heart even in his personal life.

In my book I have no problem giving this a perfect rating as a visual piece of art representing it subject in great metaphorical detail, but if I were to do so would be at the cost of hiding it weakness of any worthwhile characterization. It's to care for the passion Jiro has for his crafts to create planes regardless the world general views towards him. However, Jiro himself is not an engaging character getting a facet of a man. Never feeling what Jiro feels when he falls in love, heartbroken by a failed test flight, and enthusiasm when viewing the possibilities to improve his plane designs. His romance transition from friends to lover is abrupt when brought into the picture. The film intention is to explore a man's life who is defined by his for his crafts, even if it means undermining the bigger picture of the world he was involved in.

The art style mixes traditional hand drawn animation with impressionist-style backdrops that are gorgeously jaw-dropping. Many shots could be paused, framed, and hung up in an art museum, but the subtle animation only adds to their allure. Miyazaki has never cared much for "realistic" animation of human figures; they are abstracted into giant-eyed doll faces and stiff legs, as if trudging on stilts. The director expresses his true artistry in his landscapes: rural vistas rendered in the most delicate pastels, like the watercolors Naoko paints as Jiro courts her. In a hard land heading to war, Miyazaki makes sure the views are ravishing. The visual style sets a pleasant and whimsical tone that creates the impression that the film is a representation of the fantasy within the head of a dreamer.

The English dub voice acting is pleasant and natural, with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as a hushed, contemplative lead who we see squirming in his tight spot and Emily Blunt doing admirably as love interest Naoko. Supporting cast includes John Krasinski pleasantly snarky designer Kiro Honjo, Martin Short is fantastic as Jiro's tough-but-fair supervisor Kurokawa, and Stanley Tucci is excellent as Caproni. The most interesting stunt casting job in the English dub is famous German director Werner Herzog as dissident German engineer Castorp; given the themes of Herzog's own films (uniquely talented people seeking impossible dreams) this feels brilliantly salient. In the original Japanese audio, the standout here is the very surprising male lead - Jiro is played by none other than director Hideaki Anno. Yes, the Hideaki Anno creator of "Neon Genesis Evangelion". Talk about perfect casting when it comes to misunderstood artistic expressions. Anno's nuanced, understated performance really works well for the role. Casting is otherwise, uniformly excellent; the only remotely questionable casting choice here would be the still-serviceable Stephen Alpert as Castorp, with a noticeable American rather than German accent.

The Wind Rises doesn't give much attention the background events rather is exclusively focus on a man's passion for his crafts and how the usage of art reflect different views. Gone is Miyazaki child like wonder replaced by a harsh reality no matter how appreciative or hated a piece of art is will never be able to see it in the same way as it creator. Many of Miyazaki fans will question why he would end a career filled with rich fantasy world end with a final most resembling reality, but in doing so would distract from how Miyazaki represented himself through The Wind Rises.

Historical Accuracy: Reality vs. Artistic Expression

It wasn't easy nor necessary, but hey historical research is fun for me (sometimes). Much of the film material is derived from the autobiography "The Story of the Zero Fighter" which is 80% plane design ideas, measurements and stories surrounding Jiro's career. There's so much focus on the construction of the planes there's a measly 20% left for autobiographical material. This is an obvious indicator of his unrivaled passion for the flying machines, something which is brought to the screen perfectly. The majority of the information about the challenges Jiro met while designing his planes; the adventures he pursued as part of his work (traveling the world, mentoring students) and the thrill of watching test flights seem like they're taken straight from the book. Viewers may have only witnessed his travels to Germany, but he also visited England, France and America in the first five years of his career at Mitsubishi.

One crucial element Miyazaki left out when translating these ideas to film was the self-doubt Jiro experienced while he integrated himself into the company. Horikoshi distinctly recalls wondering why his employers would want an inexperienced guy in charge of creating their planes. The first ten minutes are fairly accurate to Jiro life, but rather unlikely he would stand up to a bully and get into a fist fight. Another early departure in accuracy is the 1923 Japanese Earthquake which Jiro never experience or even mentioned in his memoir. Instead of being inspired by Caproni the real life Jiro decided to pursue planes in University after talking to a friend of his brother, whom was a professor at the newly created Department of Aeronautics in Tokyo. Like most teens he had no idea what he wanted to do, and that was the tipping point. Sadly, there is no mention of Jiro's brother besides this.

To sum it up, Hayao Miyazaki took liberty to heart when it came to telling Jiro Horikoshi life story. Unless you do your research (or read his autobiography) you won't really learn much about the actual Jiro Horikoshi from this film, but you get an accurate portrayal of this man undying passions for his crafts. So did this affect my rating of the film? You're joking right? If the worst thing I could say about a film is that it fabricate a piece of reality than what's the point of me experiencing the medium if it's integral to it creations.
Super Reviewer
½ November 8, 2013
If this is truly Miyazaki's final picture, he went out on a beautiful high note. I happened to see the dubbed version with voice work by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. I love the way the animators at Studio Ghibli bring nature to life. All the vehicles pulse with a slightly comic heartbeat, but none of it detracts from the smart and loving human story of Jirô Horikoshi. The title comes from a 1920 poem by French poet Paul Valéry, and refers to it being a good time to live despite death being all around. The character of Jirô is a combination of the real Jiro Horikoshi, who was a fighter plane engineer, and Tatsuo Hori, who wrote the novella called The Wind Rises about a female character with tuberculosis. The uplifting story covers more than two decades of history, but, again, it is the human story at the center that will touch your heart.
Super Reviewer
August 5, 2014
For Studio Ghibli and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is is such a sad note to see that 'The Wind Rises' may be his final directorial effort. Following the career aspirations and life of airplane designer Jiro Hirikoshi; this touching, beautifully drawn and inspiring anime film is most certainly on par with Miyazaki's best films. There's an almost surreal connection with the main character's dreams and circumstances that truly channel his aspirations quite stunningly, other than that the character driven plot is sturdy and never has a dull moment. overall it may not reach the tremendous high expectations but its certainly recommended for any other Ghibli fans.
Bradley T. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2014
The Wind Rises might not be fast paced and thrilling animated fare, but it's gorgeous, dream-like, and ultimately bittersweet. With a strong, if rushed, central love story and an inspiring sense of beauty, The Wind Rises is a near masterpiece and makes Miyazaki's departure all the more tear-inducing. Rating: 89
Super Reviewer
December 17, 2014
It's a little disappointing that Miyazaki's last film is a bit of a mess. Anytime the film focuses on Jiro's dreams or balancing his artistic goals with that of the military desires of the state, it works like gangbusters. Unfortunately the doomed romance forces unnecessary melodrama into a story that was crowded to begin with.
Super Reviewer
½ September 30, 2014
If this truly is Miyazaki's final film, he's gone out in style. Beautiful.
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2014
Delightful Miyazaki animation, insistent yet saturnine.
½ September 8, 2015
Allow me to say that if Miyazaki decides to end his career on The Wind Rises, he's going out on a high note. The animation of the film makes me want to weep tears of joy, the acting is heartfelt to the core, and the story and message are melancholy and bittersweet but intense and beautiful in a way that defies reason.
May 18, 2015
The finest film I have seen about the process of creation. Most films gloss over this. The thing is invented and then we see the effects on the genius hero and his relationship with a special woman (examples are Ray, A Beautiful Mind, The Imitation Game, etc.) Here there is beauty and resonance (I cried) and for once a Miyazaki film without a spunky young girl at the center.
January 6, 2015
A beautiful farewell for Miyazaki, such a most deserved retirement. Definitely seems like a personal story for him. While it's slow moving, it's never boring. And every frame could be hung up on a wall (nothing new, I know). Not my favorite of Miyazaki's, but still a stellar work. Long live Studio Ghibli.
½ January 1, 2015
The story was just okay, with a sort of cheesy romance. But the setting was so beautifully drawn: Japan between WW1 and WW2. I was a lot more impressed by the setting than the story itself.
½ December 19, 2014
Magical, beautiful, and surprisingly complex, Miyazaki has crafted a film that doesn't only inspire his young audience, but challenges them. It's hard to hope that young Jiro will achieve his dreams, when you know that it will cost many lives. However, it's hard to hate him when you care so deeply for him and his relationship with his wife. Miyazaki approaches this kid's film with the intent of a major drama, but never loses his magical touch. With a great voice cast and brilliant images it will be hard to resist the charm and the thought-provoking nature of The Wind Rises.
½ October 18, 2014
I don't know how to even begin reviewing this film. A declared swansong of perhaps the world's most iconic animator (apologies to the mickey fans out there -- there can't be that many remaining), this movie is unabashedly reflective and derivative: sweeping imagery of flying that launched him into flight as Nausicaa's wind, Porco with less porkiness, Graveyard with fewer tears, Cat Returns' realismo-magico without the felines, Poppy Hill without the activism, and extending beyond his own works, The Aviator without the madness & Umbrellas of Cherboug with more wind. However, when one inspects the artistic licence taken, ultimately this was a historic tale of a conflicted brilliant ToDai engineer who simply did what he did best -- and ended up instrumentally designing arguably the most aerodynamic weapon of WW2, but Miyazaki swapped in (for romantic interest) instead the personal life of a struggling brilliant MIT/Princeton physicist (RPF) who was instrumental in designing WW2's most destructive weapon (the A-bomb). For this antiDisneyfication, I feel almost cheated. Jiro, the dreamy kid who went from zero to hero by making the Zero, didn't really have such a tragic romance after all, in that sense I am relieved. But the tears the Miyazaki tries to evoke through Jiro & Nahoko's personal struggle, belong to a different story; perhaps he deems that it belongs in every story, especially in the context of war & suffering all around.

That said, this is one of the rare movies that stirs the audience into reflection. And for that, Hayao shows that he still excels at what he does best: creating a sense of wonderment, no matter what the situation around is. Two of his works that I remember most fondly, Future Boy Conan & Arietty the Borrower, reflect this, as does this movie, with a title lifted from a french poem but intentionally bereft of its ending cadence (yet it is spattered often enough throughout the film): "Il faut tenter de vivre!" and so we must.
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