Friday, May 29, 2015

The Wind Rises: A short review


I went into this movie pretty much blind since all I knew about it was that it was about airplanes.  Eventually I discovered that the movie takes place during the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and around WWII when engineers were creating the kamikaze fighter plane (Mitsubishi A6M Zero).

I noticed similarities this film shared with Howl's Moving Castle in the way the planes and their sound effects were used.  The planes sounded alive; I was wondering if an actual person made the sound effects of the planes.  The earthquake also seemed like a living creature.

Any scenes of war's destruction were hauntingly metaphorical which I appreciated because instead of distracting, it complimented the movie's focus: creativity and passion of flight.

I usually like the move to make as much sense in context as possible and since "The Wind Rises" takes place in Japan, I would watch in in Japanese.  Alas, subtitles weren't really working too well for me so I watched it in English.
I actually didn't mind the English voice acting and I thought the English voice of Jiro suited him quite well being calm, quiet, and soothing.  It must've been because Joseph Gordon Levitt lent his voice and he can do no wrong in my world.  I also thought Jiro's friend Honjo's voice actor fit his character with him being more of a snarky/blunt kind of guy. The comically short and sharp-tongued boss Kurokawa was voiced by Martin Short and I think he did a great job with his role. His angry/shrill voice just molded so well with Kurokawa's expressions and the end result was hilarious.

The themes of the movie revolved around WWII and obviously those are touchy subjects that would be treaded carefully.  I think Ghibli succeeded in making this film ultimately poignant.  Yes, there were scattered scenes of lightheartedness, but the underlying fact of the matter is that this movie takes place during a war and even though engineers wanted to create beautiful flying machines, these machines would eventually end up as tools of war.  The characters liked to make a point of this in their dialogue many times.

I enjoyed how the story alternated between gains and losses caused by love, war, progress, and natural disaster.  There are some people that might sum up this movie as being rather depressing.  I was close to label it this way.  But thinking back, it's more of a mixture and the main thing I took from the movie was that technological progress will happen even if these creations will be used in destructive ways.  It appears that the movie was trying to get the message across that engineers of the time were not trying to create warplanes for killing.  They were passionate inventors who only wanted to create the best planes possible and to advance technology past limitations.

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