AFI Fest: ‘The Wind Rises’

Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” (Kazetachinu) is unlike his previous features and is more a contemplation on war and circumstances than a perilous adventure.

No one’s life is threatened. No girl struggles to make her way and resolve some problem. Here we have an actual person who did struggle with a real problem: Using the most available material in Japan to make fighter airplanes. At the time, German manufacturers made their airplanes out of metal. Japan is a metal poor country. Jiro Horikoshi was able to design the Zero WWII fighter–a zippy little airplane that at first out maneuvered the airplanes flown by the Allies.

Miyazaki imagines the near-sighted boy who dreamed of being a pilot but had to settle for designing airplanes instead. And Miyazaki adds a gentle doomed romance.

Jiro’s dreams come alive, bringing him into contact with an Italian count who designed airplanes. If you dream of flying and have loved the imagery of flying that come from Studio Ghibli, you’ll enjoy this gentle movie.

Sometimes war leads to innovation and sometimes we don’t celebrate the technological innovations of the defeated nations. Horikoshi’s innovations did results in deaths, but doesn’t have those creepy ethical complications that the German (and Japanese) research (and torture) come with.

If you missed the festival screenings, “The Wind Rises” is playing for one week at the Landmark. Otherwise, it will be back in theaters for a wider release in February.

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