Hightailed it to the movie theater with rgfellows to see Hayao Miyazaki’s last film as a feature director, The Wind Rises.
As always, Miyazaki’s movie with flush with gorgeous backdrops, sweeping views, and arresting color schemes.
In a rather lackluster way, The Wind Rises is about a well-mannered boy genius (Jiro) who escapes the worst of the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII by cloistering himself away and designing planes while much of the rest of the Japanese population lose their homes, their incomes, and their lives.
But the film isn’t meant to be a chronicle of suffering at the ground level of disaster - there are plenty of films about that. And it’s not a historical biography of Jiro either. It’s about dreams more generally, and planes as the symbol of the human capacity to rise above the devastation of history. Jiro’s only concern is creating beautiful planes, and in the many dream sequences that he is a part of, it is planes that break through the smoke of the fires that cover the land and planes that literally fly, dip, and soar above the worries of the people with a nonchalance that promises freedom and peace.
But just as often as planes are positive markers in Jiro’s imaginary flights of fancy, they are also material manifestations of everything that can and do go wrong. The planes that fly also crash, carry bombs, fire guns, and fall to pieces, an indication of the flimsiness of dreaming in the face of reality, as well as the violence of war that Jiro is inevitably complicit in. As Caproni tells Jiro at the end of the film, planes are “a beautiful dream, a cursed dream just waiting to be swallowed up by the sky.”
…The title of the film comes from a French poem that is quoted multiple times: “The wind is rising, we must try to live.” If planes are indicative of dreams, then the wind, a close partner, is indicative of “life” on a grand scale: the wind rises, signaling impending destruction and disaster, but the wind also rises as a opportunity for the flight of dreams themselves (no matter how imperfect they are).