Tuesday, March 10, 2015

to build Pyramids - 'The Wind Rises' review


I gotta say this is Miyazaki's finest work up to date, as well as his farewell letter. It's not just an animation film, to categorize it as a medium is like saying a novel is just words. It's a live action war time drama painted in water color, I dont think i've seen anything like this in any of his previous works. Those subtleties in the acting, the beautiful silence and the sound of the wind - it's visual poetry. Miyazaki break out of the 'spirited away' mold that viewers often associate Studio Ghibli with and created something daring and perhaps a personal journey in the form of visual storytelling.

'The Wind Rises' makes American animation look like kid's play, it's not about good guys vs bad guys, not about boy fall in love with a girl because they are there. I feel like in most of animated movies  all you see is a formulated black and white writing made on an assembly line. This FILM feels different, it is not a cartoon for kids, nor just entertainment for casual movie goers. "The wind is rising! We must try to live." doesn't just show up on the screen to be some clever message, in my understanding, it's bout a person heading towards a challenge/struggle for a cause, and that process may result in terrible loses but you must continue to carry on.

when your passions becomes a tool to be used in destruction, why do you build them? Why do you need those weapons of war? In the film, Castorp asked Jiro whether he would want pyramids or not, he is saying if your beautiful planes becomes a tool to murder, would you still build it? It's not so different when they visited Germany, the military is converting a passenger plane into a bomber. Is the plane designer responsible for this decision? It's an unfortunate circumstance that your skill is becoming a tool for someone else's ideals, when your dream is to meet Castorp on top of a hill and become your hero, seeing your plane fly freely in the sky. Jiro even mentioned that he would drop the machine gun to reduce weight, clearly he doesnt want to build a weapon. This film isnt about glorifying Zero Planes that killed million of people, (nor about smoking cigarettes that would cause lung cancer), that's silly (not that i don't respect historical events) but you are really missing the point!

Emotionally, I really like the slow yet steady movements in character's acting. In japanese culture, respect and feelings are expressed in a subtle way, the nodding of the head, the stillness of the face, when characters do not blink in a scene, are all great acting beats that you feel subconsciously. When Naoko meeting Jiro the second time in the forest, her expression says it all, they simply looked at one another for a moment and tears rolled down her eyes. That moment when Jiro's listening on the phone hearing that Naoko is very ill, that quick cut of her vomiting blood, and the way Jiro rushing out of the house, all in complete silence, are extremely powerful gut feelings weaved together perfectly from shot to shot. That to me was the best part of this film. and I do not see just drawings moving across the screen, or bg painted by hands. (Nowadays, too much is being focused on comical exaggeration, and special fx). To express real feelings from the heart requires control and draftmanship in order to execute the scene properly. These moments make you forget the animation, but how real the characters had become. did you also notice the different way Jiro walk from time to time? or  the way he looks up in the sky. I find the film very emotionally fulfilling, it may seem to be long, and mundane on the surface (for most casual movie goers), but with careful observation, if you immerse yourself in the struggle of the character's mind. You feel their sorrow, hope and what Jiro wants to create isn't some metal machine to be used in the army.

To sum it all up, 'The Wind Rises' is different in a way, that after all the films done in the past, Miyazaki-san is giving us a look at his final thoughts on his career. Was he just building a pyramind? No, he built a plane that he always dream of, and not for any other purpose. It may not make a lot of money in the box office, people who dont understand his views maybe think he is a narrow minded grumpy old man, but I think this is a personal film he made for HIMSELF. It's not a political message of any sort, you may think, "how dare he pay tribute to a man who's work massacred million of people, how dare they not showing a drop of blood at hands of the japanese empire?! how dare him not showing a single guilt as if he is proud of what his nation did in world war II?!" Would you feel better if there were images of dead bodies? (watch 'Night and Fog') No, this is not a film about killing machines, if every movie on Albert Einstein is about the destruction of the atomic bomb, then what would be the importance of science? why do we bother creating technology? If these 'pyramids' didnt exist, would that make a better world? NO. Technology is invented to improve on life, but sometimes we take advantage of them for destructive uses. As artists, we create images to reflect our personal feelings on life and its memories, without them we'd simply live and die as time goes on, then what would be the significance of achieving anything?