Saw the wind rises yesterday. Here are some thoughts.
On the whole it was very good, basically a showcase of all the fine ingredients of a typical Miyazaki film. It looked absolutely beautiful, the score was enchanting, and the characters felt real. As a director his attention to detail is almost unmatched in the medium.
I saw the dub (on false pretenses, my ticket said subtitled which was a shame) but the english voice cast did well enough. Emily Blunt felt like a weird pick for the voice of Naoko, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt did surprisingly well as Jirou. I was looking forward to hearing Anno in this role but before long I didn’t mind. Even if you are sceptical of dubbed anime (like I am), the film has enough redeeming qualities to enjoy – in particular the stunning visuals.
A common complaint I’ve heard from viewers was the pacing of the film, which I agree felt a little strange. It’s a long feature (2+ hours) and the love story only kicks off at the halfway point which felt a little weird. Fortunately though, this part of the film had Castorp – the ephemeral German with a penchant for watercress who might have been my favourite character if it wasn’t for Caproni.
The Wind Rises really shone in Jirou’s dream sequences, which featured a fantastic portrayal of Italian aviation maeastro Giovanni Caproni. The importance of following your dreams and doing your best (Ganbare!) were presented in a way that felt inspiring and without cliché. The way Miyazaki manages these themes so effortlessly now is just a small testament to his incredible talent as a director.
While the film was both dramatic and uplifting, it was also uniquely ironic in that Jirou’s dreams of designing planes clashes with the sad reality that they would be used as the machines of WWII. Some might find this unsettling but it gave the film a particular flavour to set it apart from the Ghibli catalogue, and the message of a hope for peace was not lost on the audience.