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The Wind Rises(2013)
Inspired by the aesthetics of design, and the freedom of flying, Jiro Horikoshi only dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes. Nearsighted from a young age, and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927. Having dreamed of creating an elegant and flight worthy plane since childhood, Jiro's life-long labor finally pays off in adulthood, when he creates the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. What Jiro never imagined, however, not even in his wildest dreams, was the fate that would befall his beloved creation Ś that his labor of love would eventually be used for something beyond his wildest expectation: war.
For more about The Wind Rises and the The Wind Rises Blu-ray release, see the The Wind Rises Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 18, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Stephen Alpert, Morio Kazama
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
» See full cast & crew
The Wind Rises Blu-ray Review
"Inspiration unlocks the future..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, November 18, 2014
The Wind Rises is acclaimed writer/director Hayao Miyazaki's stunning, heartaching farewell to animation; a film so moving, personal and affecting that it's hard to imagine a more fitting project capping the Studio Ghibli co-founder's illustrious career. Though some will no doubt suggest a sweeping fantasy epic would have been more appropriate (something more akin to Nausicań of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away), Miyazaki's largely fictionalized account of aircraft designer and engineer Jiro Horikoshi (1903-1982) is all at once an absorbing period drama, a captivating romance, a jaw-dropping piece of deftly executed hand-drawn animation, and a glimpse into the mind of a man of invention, innovation and wondrous imagination. And it's in that regard that Miyazaki's Horikoshi and Miyazaki the filmmaker are almost inseparable. Where one begins and the other ends is only known to Miyazaki, a revered icon here and abroad whose animated films have inspired and influenced more animators, directors, screenwriters and illustrators than could ever be counted. The Wind Rises is both fiction and non-fiction, biographical and autobiographical, surreal and real, dreamlike and grounded, hopeful and haunting, beautiful and simple. It's a fascinating, multilayered masterwork that's one of Miyazaki's finest films and greatest achievements.
From a young age, Jiro (Hideaki Anno, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Giovanni Caproni (Mansai Nomura, Stanley Tucci). Nearsighted from a young age and unable to become a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world's most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. The film chronicles much of his life, depicting key historical events, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan's plunge into war. But even in the midst of such trials, Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko (Miori Takimoto, Emily Blunt) and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo (Hidetoshi Nishijima, John Krasinski). Writer/director Hayao Miyazaki pays tribute to engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori in this epic tale of love, perseverance, and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.
It would be easy to dismiss The Wind Rises as an A-to-B biopic that lacks insight into a key figure in Japanese military history, but Miyazaki is far less interested in Horikoshi's achievements in aeronautical engineering than in capturing and visualizing that very familiar, very human spark of imagination, invention, love, and a life well-lived. Miyazaki presents the inner-workings of a complex mind as dazzling dreams -- literal flights of fancy -- that not only inspire Jiro to press on but allow him to refine his designs in a world in which he isn't tied to the ground. These brief, uplifting bursts of fantasy stand in stark contrast to the realities of Jiro's Japan, where natural disasters, economic collapse, secret police and looming war cast a long, discouraging shadow. And it's in these moments of conflict that he earns our investment.
The tragedy, of course, is that Jiro's planes will one day be used to inflict horrific violence uncomfortably at odds with his sweet, soft-spoken nature. His visions rise above sun-kissed clouds unsullied by war, while those nurturing his skills fix their sights much lower, at the advantages a superior war plane could provide in battle. Jiro isn't na´ve, though, and by no means blind. Miyazaki doesn't pretend his protagonist is an outspoken pacifist or a hero fighting to retain the purity of his craft. He knows exactly what his planes are capable of and exactly what will happen if he continues to solve problems and improve his designs. Yet Jiro isn't a driven patriot either. He isn't expressly working for or against his country, just as Miyazaki isn't penning a sermon about war. Jiro's desire is to create amazing things; to see his dreams come to life through steel, wire and wind. Nothing more, nothing less. Miyazaki's underlying desire is also to create, to see his imagination and all that comes with it spring to life on screen. And while those dreams certainly examine themes involving war, pacifism and the gray matter between, posing a series of increasingly difficult questions he leaves to his audience to answer (to the point that the film has been greeted with quite a bit of controversy in Japan), The Wind Rises isn't preaching. It's soaring.
Miyazaki also doesn't squeeze in a villain or antagonist, other than brief encounters with the Gestapo and secret police. Jiro's demanding supervisor, Kurokawa (Masahiko Nishimura, Martin Short) is just that: a demanding supervisor, and one who proves himself far more honorable than his gruff, overbearing exterior initially suggests. Honjo never betrays Jiro. There's no team member angling to take credit for his designs. And nothing other than Nahoko's disease backs him into a corner. Even terminal tuberculosis is handled believably, with Jiro and Nahoko's unwavering love taking complete and total precedence over the story-derailing melodrama other filmmakers might indulge. Their romance is all at once marvelously real, classically unshakeable, and utterly heartbreaking, with Jiro treasuring every minute they have together, Nahoko fully supporting his work and their love, and each one prioritizing the needs of the other. The scene in which Jiro holds Nahoko's hand through an all-night work session? Get ready to fight back tears. Good luck finding a healthier, more enviable relationship in any other film this year.
The Wind Rises ends somewhat abruptly, but further viewings make it clear few other endings would have sufficed. This isn't a story of Jiro Horikoshi's life. It's a story of the power of a dream. The birth of an idea. The realization of a vision. The fight to create in a world hellbent on destruction. The desire to love against all odds. The drive to persevere when all seems lost. If it strikes you as too simple a story, watch it again. Again and again if necessary until the brilliance of the picture becomes apparent. Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli may be forever remembered for their fantasy classics, but The Wind Rises captures the force that has driven the creation of each one: the imagination.
The Wind Rises Blu-ray, Video Quality
Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation is absolutely gorgeous. Every shot, every scene. Without exception. Colors are beautiful and beautifully saturated, contrast is lovely and consistent, primaries pop, and black levels are deep and satisfying. Detail is excellent as well, with crisp, clean line art free of ringing and aliasing, carefully preserved textures and background subtleties, and nothing in the way of errant noise or noise reduction. A faint veneer of grain is present, though wholly unobtrusive, and there isn't any macroblocking or banding to report. It's as perfect and flawless a presentation as any Miyazaki fan could hope for.
The Wind Rises Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Miyazaki made two very interesting choices when it came to The Wind Rises' sound design. The first is that the film features a single-channel mix, which Disney's English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio Mono tracks recreate faithfully and, as insomuch as mono is capable, spectacularly. The second is that the movie's sound effects have been created using the human voice. Roaring engines, whirring propellers, chugging trains, rumbling earthquakes et al. The Blu-ray's lossless mix makes each one a delight too, without anything in the way of issues or mishaps to report. Dialogue is clean, clear and intelligible, the rest of the soundscape follows suit, and Joe Hisaishi's score isn't forced to compete at any point. While some will no doubt be disappointed with Miyazaki's move to mono, and while a 5.1 mix would I'm sure have been amazing in its own right, this is a matter of filmmaker's intention and has been scored as such. Purists needn't worry about dubtitling either. The English subtitles provide a direct translation of the original Japanese audio.
The Wind Rises Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Wind Rises Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I'm sure The Wind Rises won't resonate with everyone as much as it has with me. Some will find its deliberate pace and simple story off-putting, while others will pine for a full-fledged Miyazaki fantasy the filmmaker's retirement has assured they'll never see. But buried within his final film is a tale of inspiration, creation and invention, one that's both a terrifically effective and touching drama and, from a certain perspective, an autobiographical glimpse into the inner-workings of Miyazaki's mind and Studio Ghibli's productions. I can't think of a more fitting farewell from Miyazaki than a film that offers a look into his own imagination. Thankfully, Disney's Blu-ray release doesn't disappoint. With a stunning video presentation, an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track (faithful to Miyazaki's intentions), a literal-translation subtitle track (for the purists among you), and a solid selection of supplements, it stands as one of my favorite releases of the year.
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The Wind Rises Blu-ray, News and Updates
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• The Wind Rises Blu-ray - August 15, 2014
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has revealed the Blu-ray release of Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises. The dazzling animated film is presented in Japanese and English, with an English dub voice cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, ...
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