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THE WIND RISES (review)

Review by Benn Robbins
Produced by Toshio Suzuki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki
Based on Kaze Tachinu by Hayao Miyazaki
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, 
Martin Short, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, 
Darren Criss, Mae Whitman, Mandy Patinkin, 
Jennifer Grey, Stanley Tucci, Elijah Wood

I don’t know how I am going to write this review for The Wind Rises, the final film of master animator and artist Hayao Miyazaki.

The amount of feelings I am filled with and the emotional tidal wave that has hit me as I sit and ponder this is overwhelming.

I can’t stop tearing up.

Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is the culmination of the love and passion he has for the art form of animation, and for his love and dedication of the loved ones in his life.

The story of Jiro, a young man who dreams of designing airplanes. The Wind Rises follows Jiro through his life as he struggles with success and failure as he balances his work and his life.

The film chronicles real life events in Japan including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 through Japan’s foray into WWII.

(stops for 15 mins to just sit and think about all the beautiful watercolor backgrounds)

The opening 10 minutes of the film are breathtaking and it just keeps getting better with every passing frame.

The film begins with a dream sequence where the main Character, Jiro (played by Joseph Gordon Levitt) meets his idol, Italian aircraft designer, Giovanni Caproni (masterfully voiced by Stanley Tucci). Caproni shows Jiro his newest design for a majestic aircraft. He tells Jiro to live and create the most beautiful planes he can imagine. Jiro continues to “meet” with Caproni throughout the film as he dreams and is inspired to create.

This is a film written and directed by a master craftsman.

His films have been wrought with the fantastic and wonderful.

This film is no exception.

Even though it is loosely based on the life and times of, Jiro Horikoshi, the legendary Mitsubishi Zero fighter designer, and novelist Tatsuo Hori, Miyazaki has found a way to infuse his own unique imagination and creativity into their lives. He enhances and augments the real life events, never detracting from the power and raw emotional energy inherent in these experiences. This marks the first time Miyazaki has done a film based on a real person and he handles it with aplomb.

All of the characters are handled with the love and care of a father.

Not one frame is wasted.

I cared for every single character whether they were main characters or had only 17 seconds of screen time. Seeing this in English, I was very impressed, as usual, with PIXAR’s handling of the English Language script and vocal talent involved. Gary Rydstrom (Oscar Winning Sound Designer) did an amazing job at directing and bringing the characters to life in English.

Standing out of the supporting cast is Werner Herog as the mysterious, Castrop, a German seeking solace in Japan. He is integral to the film as he lets the audience know the situation of world events and feelings between Europe and Japan during the time of WWII. More importantly he is instrumental in helping Jiro and Nahoko get together and convince her father to let them be together.

Rounding out the stellar voice acting cast is John Krasinski (“The Office”) as Jiro’s college friend and partner, Honjo. Emily Blunt (“Looper”) as Jiro’s destined love and wife. Martin Short, Mandy Patinkin, William H. Macy and Elijah Wood.

Weaving a stunning tale of love, sadness, passion, obsession and triumph, this “swan song” film of Hayao Miyazaki should not be missed. I am hopeful it will receive the full, large-scale theatrical release it deserves.

This is my vote for Best Animated Feature at this years Academy Awards and I hope the Academy agrees with me. Not just a spectacular animated film, The Wind Rises is an almost perfect film, period. It has as little flaws as it’s meticulously painted backgrounds do.

I hope you get to see this film.

I really do.

It is a masterpiece.

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