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Friday, February 28, 2014

Kaze Tachinu (aka The Wind Rises) (2013)

When a young boy (Hideaki Anno) obsessed with flying grows up, he becomes an aeronautical engineer in 1920s Japan. Working for a private airplane manufacturer contracted by the Japanese government to design a more efficient fighter plane, his diligence pays off when he designs a plane that will be preeminent in WWII. Very loosely based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical designer who designed the Mitsubishi Zero aircraft used by the Japanese in WWII. This swan song of the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki is, no surprise, stunning both visually and stylistically. Yet it's also often ponderous, not an adjective I'd ever normally think of when describing Miyazaki's work. For a film about planes and flying, there's little of the excitement and beauty of flight, something you can find readily in other films from WINGS to THE BLUE MAX. I was actually more taken with the personal love story of Horikoshi and his ill wife (Miori Takimoto) that ran concurrently with the aircraft narrative. Still, a film about the creation of a plane whose purpose was to cause destruction and death during WWII without addressing that fact seems somewhat disingenuous. Sort of like making a film about the creation of the atom bomb while ignoring Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Disappointing but it's still Miyazaki, a master of anime whose work should never be missed. There's an English language version playing out there but I saw it in the original Japanese which, considering its subject matter, is preferable.

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