TheWindrisesHow To Stay In The Air
The Wind Rises
Voices of:  HideakI Anno, Miori Takimoto and Hidetoshi Nishijima
Director/Scriptwriter: Hayao Miyazaki
Composer: Joe Hisaishi
Touchstone Pictures/Studio Ghibli
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 2 hours
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Film
*Note to readers: when “The Wind Rises” was screened for critics, it was subtitled. Now, there is a version in some theaters that is dubbed, and perhaps the subtitled version is out there, too. Whatever version you see, this animated film is for adults, mature children and above, because of story theme and violence.
“The Wind Rises” maybe the last film for director/scriptwriter Hayao Miyazaki (“My Neighbor Totoro”) He is heading into retirement, though if this movie wins an Oscar, that may change. We will know soon.  In the meantime, “The Wind Rises” is based on the real life story of Japanese aeronautical engineer, Jiro Horikoshi, from childhood through WWII and shows the development of a mind that sees beauty in flight and airplanes. This is a different viewpoint of WWII from the other side.
As a child, Jiro was fascinated with flight and began making model planes and designing futuristic planes.  His career advances and eventually he meets Naoko, the love of his life. Their courtship and marriage is tenderly shown against the background of impending war that the couple is oblivious about. Not only that, but earthquakes play a part here, too, as that area of the Pacific is prone to them.
For each plane design that Jiro draws and eventually is made, the government pressures him for more. He finally begins to realize that his idea for passenger planes is being used for fighter planes (The Zero). Plus, there is help from the German government, no less. What an eye opener when realization comes.
The animation here is first class and wind plays a strong role in the film, from taking a girl’s bonnet off to kite flying to getting a plane off the ground to actually being in the air. You can almost feel the draft in a movie theater. This is not the Pixar-type of animation, but a softer variety.  I am reviewing after seeing the subtitled version, and found it not easy to read dialogue and watch the story.  This wasn't easy for an adult and would be difficult for children, especially descriptions of planes and the love story.
Characters are drawn fully enough for us to understand their actions, though at two hours, it seems as though even more could have been written. The love story is poignant and unexpected. This is the type of film with so much to say that it could have been a television series. Why Jiro Horikoshi’s story is told in animation is a mystery, perhaps to see if it could be done and that it almost accomplishes. I write “almost,” because you really want to see those planes in the air as they actually would be. The illustration of how much the wind is with us, as in a scene where Jiro and his fiancée are walking to a hill top for a better view and the wind seems to be carrying them there, placing them in the right vantage point, is imaginative. Those who live in windy climes (Central Plains states for sure) will understand this.
Copyright 2014 Marie Asner