The Wind Rises (2013): 8/10
But there's got to be more to it than that. Jiro's planes, beautiful as they may have been, were killing machines, and they were effective ones. Jiro expresses some amount of regret at this fact in the film--when working on a bomber design, he laments that the plane, which had originally been built to carry human cargo, must now carry bombs instead, and at another point he half-jokes that he could make the perfect prototype for his fighter plane if only he could remove the guns. Still, in pursuing his exploration of beauty and how it can be corrupted, Miyazaki makes a critical misstep in how vastly he abstracts the human cost of Jiro's dream machine--the planes themselves are ultimately lamented more by Jiro (as far as we are allowed to see) than even the humans that died flying them, never mind the lives that were snuffed out in combat during the war. Of course, this perceived misstep could simply be due to how much Miyazaki sympathizes with the character Jiro as a fellow artist (I think you could make a strong point for Jiro being based heavily on Miyazaki himself)--but does even this charmingly fictionalized version of Jiro deserve our sympathy? As portrayed, he was simply a driven engineer who loved his country and was passionate about his work. Easy to sympathize with, right? Still, Jiro's single-mindedness, while admirable to some respect, is also troublesome, and the tragic romantic subplot that drives the latter half of the film is equally worrisome--he neglects the supposed love of his life and to some degree trivializes her poor health, while managing to disguise his neglectful behavior with/as love. Perhaps the fault lies in me as a somewhat cynical viewer--Miyazaki is obviously concerned with only a narrow band of themes here, and there's no denying that he explores the ones that he cares about fully and beautifully. *Still,* I can't help but be perturbed by how unconcerned he seems to be with things that I find to be greatly concerning--I think it's slightly dishonest of Miyazaki (a self-confessed cynic, despite all film evidence to the contrary) to tell this otherwise perfect tale of lament without also lamenting the great human cost tied up in the events of this film. The last line of the film, in particular, left a sour taste in my mouth--that it followed one of the best lines in the film just hurt even worse. (If only we all had Italian spirit guides that prevented us from examining our failings with the promise of a good wine.)
I got an impression that Jiro was a deliberately idealized character. Hence I think that pointing out the controversial nature of creating war airplanes is like missing a point of the whole movie ( the point of the film is in uncompromising idealization of the main characters and pre-war time in Japan). Any controversy or down-to-earthness would have destroyed idealistic, sentimental and romantic tone of the film. Also I didn't notice that Jiro neglected his love.
If there were faults they were in different things in my opinion. What is the purpose of a cartoon if it imitates regular film? Isn't the main advantage of an animated product that there is no boundaries for your fantasy? That was the reason why I felt a little bit uncomfortable watching The Wind Rises. It was a very unusual format to me.
Edited by mutabor - 3/16/14 at 2:46pm