Film pick: The Wind Rises

126 minutes


Japan's master of animation Hayao Miyazaki is the man behind some of my favourite flights of fancy.

From My Neighbour Totoro (1988) to Spirited Away (2001), he has created gorgeously rendered worlds in which tales of bravery and magic unfold.

Inspired by the Italian plane designer Giovanni Battista Caproni (Nomura Mansai), Jiro Horikoshi (Hideaki Anno) dreams of flight as a young boy.

After studying engineering at university, he works for an airplane manufacturer and eventually succeeds in coming up with a fast aircraft, the Mitsubishi A5M. Both the A5M and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, were used by Japan during World War II. Along the way, he falls in love with Naoko (Miori Takimoto), a girl he meets on a train journey.

Based on writer-director Miyazaki's manga adaptation of a 1937 short story of the same name by Tatsuo Hori, the film-maker is careful not to glorify war and destruction.

It is not fully persuasive though and the prickly question of Horikoshi's culpability in the building of war machines is too readily resolved with a throwaway line: "We're not arms merchants, we just want to build good aircraft."

As a movie, The Wind Rises is, as always for a Studio Ghibli feature, beautifully illustrated. Miyazaki pays attention to the little details and that helps to bring the animated world alive.

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