The Wind Rises is quite unlike any other of Miyazaki’s films. Essentially a biopic, this Studio Ghbili prduction tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, aeronautical engineer, who worked during the pre- war era, designing planes for Mitsubishi.
Jiro’s life is documented into sections. The beginning of the film sees him as a school child, where his tendency for working hard becomes clear. His desire to design planes comes to him in a dream, where he meets his real-life idol, the Italian, Count Giovanni Caproni. “Aeroplanes are dreams”, says Caproni. This encapsulates the extent of the fantasy elemen within the film, which in comparison to Miyazaki’s others, is really nothing much.
Jiro goes onto fulfill his childhood desire to build planes, and further, becomes Japans finest, and most skilled technician. His character from the beginning, is painted with patience, compassion, modesty and delicate attention. Jiro’s eye for fine details provides him with the ability to creatively deconstruct and rebuild; entirely endearing, Miyazaki chose to have Jiro gain inspiration for his final aeroplane wing design, from an arched bone he finds in one of his Mackerel dinners.
Jiro’s life must of course, consist of more than just working. Appearing fated, his relationship with Naoko develops from mere coincidence, to passionate love. Adding an element of harsh, unforgiving reality to the film, Naoko’s character and pathway through the film offers complexity, as well as connecting and paralleling the delicacy of the human makeup, to that of an aeroplane.
Despite the film not being the in-your-face fantasy epic that Miyazaki has his fans seeking, The Wind Rises offers a mature, subtle tale with hidden depths- interestingly, all of the sound effects within the film were created with human voices. Not devoid of lovable qualities, there are still moments of laughter on offer, and as a biopic, you’re able to digest some new, historical information. As Miyazaki’s last, this film adds diversity to his collection. For those interested in exploring his previous films, look first to My Neighbour Totoro (1988), Spirited Away (2001) and Ponyo (2008).