If Miyazaki doesn’t back out of it again, and if The Wind Rises truly is his last picture, then Hayao Miyazaki has gone out in a way few filmmakers manage: He has left behind him a body of work so precise, consistent, controlled, imaginative, and unique that there is hardly a misstep in the whole lot. One way or another all of his films are enjoyable, and his work is just so internally consistent as to arouse wonder in anyone who dares to watch his whole body of work. So here I stand at the end of the Miyazaki road, having seen every one of his films in order, and all I can do is sort of marvel at the man’s creative genius.
The Wind Rises is a sort of biographical tale of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who invented the
Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter for Japan and revolutionized aviation. This is not, however, so that this film is strictly a historically accurate retelling of Horikoshi’s life, as the source of Horikoshi’s personal life in this film comes from the Hori Tatsuo novel The Wind Has Risen which is about a tuberculosis patient. Miyazaki’s seamless blending of these two source materials (one fiction, the other historical) create a beautiful singular work which could only be woven together by a master-craftsman and storyteller.
The third element to the story, conceived by Miyazaki himself, is a world of shared-dreaming between Jiro and the Italian aviation engineer Giovanni Caproni, and it is in these sequences that the typical fantastical elements find their way into this otherwise very realistic story.
The film is concerned with Jiro’s love of flight but his inability to become a pilot because of
bad eyesight. From the get-go, from the very opening scene which shows Jiro dreaming of flying away in a plane he built (very reminiscent of Castle in the Sky), Miyazaki’s fascination with flying is present and it never gives way to anything else.
Until Jiro beautiful Nahoko and falls madly in love with her.
Miyazaki deftly interweaves the two love stories (one with planes; the other with a woman) into one continuous film about a man who simply wanted to make things. This was something I relate to wholeheartedly, and I assume most people can: we all want to do that which we enjoy most in this life, Jiro just gets the opportunity most can only dream of.
In the grand halls of Miyazaki’s filmography, The Wind Rises might be his greatest, most personal work. It is an animated film that need not be animated, and yet is all the more glorious because of it. Every frame, every painted backdrop, and every single movement is
fluid and beautiful, just as all of Miyazaki’s films are. It is a stunning movie, and is such a wonderful end to the long, respected, and fruitful careers in all of filmmaking. Miyazaki is stands not simply as a master animator, but as a master filmmaker. Surly his work will live on among the likes of Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray and others.
Certainly Miyazaki’s body of work stands as one of the most consistent and fulfilling in all of cinematic history. If it sounds like I am gushing it is because I am. Hayao Miyazaki’s career is finished, he has retired, and he has left the world a wonderful set of eleven feature-length films. His films are magic and The Wind Rises is no different.
Surly this is what his dreams look like.