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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 October 2014
This, it is said, is the last Miyazaki film. He has been such an exceptional, individual and magical film-maker that the great hope was that this film would not disappoint. It absolutely does not. It is the story of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Japanese Zero fighter, his early genius as a designer, his utter dedication to the work and his final success in building an outstanding and iconic plane. It is not, however, at all a film which glorifies war and the use to which the plane is put. Horikoshi is fascinated by design, flight, the wind, man's aspiration to be airborne, and the film taps into those in a lyrical, sometimes dream-like way (indeed, there are actual dream sequences). Structurally, it is somewhat episodic, but that does not matter ; there is always a feeling that this is about something 'bigger' and more fundamental than a literal story of the man's life and theplane itself. Parallel with Horikoshi's work is his relationship with Naoko, a girl he rescues from the Tokyo earthquake, and this is a sad story ultmately, providing a really moving but characteristically strange - and the better for it - ending. I can understand why some reviewers found this element in the film sentimental, but it worked for me. Visually, from its first moment to its last, the film is beautiful beyond words, and its beauty is underpinned by a very strong musical score. There is, in the end, no disappointment here, only the stamp of a unique master at work.
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on 7 November 2014
I LOVE this. true it doesn't have wolves and dragons or ghosts or phantoms or Cat Buses. What it does have though is the quintessential proof that Mayao can tell a story - and tell it beautifully. This is a fairly simple tale but it flows along at an even pace. I did ask myself "why do this as an animation rather than live action?" and the answer is obvious - Proves what a wonderful animator he is. The characters are utterly convincing. It is so seamlessly flawless that it is easy to forget just how difficult it is to make a 2D drawing come to life an be convincing. The pictures are sublime, a total treat for the eyes.

Do yourself a favour and buy this, just to give yourself a total escape for a few hours.

Goodbye, we will miss you
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I tried to keep my expectations as neutral as possible, the last thing I wanted to happen was not enjoying the movie because I had over-hyped it. It was a pretty hard thing to do as I'm a big Ghibli fan.

When it comes to the animation I just couldn't keep my eye's off the TV screen; the animation was utterly beautiful and the music composed by Joe Hisaishi really kept me in awe all the way through the film.

Although story wise it isn't the best Ghibli film out there, the story was still very enjoyable, it delivers a variety of emotions from happy to sad but also has some pretty funny moments too.

I honestly would recommend this film, mainly on Blu-Ray so you can truly appreciate how stunning this film is.

♦ EXTRA INFO ♦

Versions Available: DVD |Blu-ray + DVD (Standard Edition) |Blu-ray + DVD (Collector's Edition).

I bought both the normal DVD version & the collectors DVD/Blu-Ray combo because I like collecting both versions for some reason...

Anyway, the DVD version only has 'Feature Storyboards' & 'Trailers and TV Spots', whereas the Blu-Ray version has both of these with an additional 'Announcement of the Completion of the Film' special feature.

Furthermore, the collectors edition compared to the normal DVD/Blu-Ray combo has no additional special features; what you're getting is a slip-case with different artwork with a matte finish, then you have a cardboard case with printed artwork all over it. Inside you'll get 5 Wind Rises postcards.

► Note: I've included an unboxing video for the collectors edition. In the video, I also talk about the differences between the DVD & Blu-Ray versions.
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Beautiful animation, as you'd expect, but there seemed to be even more to feast the eyes on than in the usual Miyazaki film, with things going on in the foreground, midground and background all at the same time.

And the story was very well told, striking just the right balance i.e. acknowledging the events that took place in Japan (and Germany) leading up to WW2, but also sending out quite a profound anti-war message. It's based on the inspirational (but somewhat fictionalized) life of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter plane, and how his career (and outlook on life) was shaped by the exploits of the Italian aircraft engineer, Giovanni Caproni (who is portrayed as a very entertaining, larger-than-life character in this film - but I think this part of the story is considerably more fiction than fact...). There is also a second, quite sad, strand to the story, showing how Jiro met his wife-to-be, Nahoko, and their subsequent romance and marriage, followed by her untimely death from TB. This worked well, in my view, as it emphasised the human aspects of the story and balanced the technology-heavy side - it would have been a tad too dry for most people, I think, without this.

A very enjoyable film, and worth watching more than once, that's for sure - I noticed a lot more detail on the second viewing and will probably find more on subsequent viewings too.
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on 23 May 2014
THIS REVIEW IS FROM MY BLOG: [...]

To call a movie released in May "film of the year" is a somewhat risky move. However, given that The Wind Rises currently sits as my favourite movie of the ten-nies (?), it's a fair assumption. Make no mistake, The Wind Rises is a masterpiece. A movie that comes along once every five years (or so) that changes the way we look at movies and, well, life in general. It takes a lot to achieve that level of power and majesty. As it turns out, it takes Hayao Miyazaki...

The Wind Rises is a highly fictionalised tribute to the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II. Miyazaki also draws heavily from the works of Tatsuo Hori, whose prose inspired the title and serves as a prelude to the story. Along the way, Jiro experiences the Kanto earthquake, economic depression, the tuberculosis epidemic, the breakout of WW2 and the tragic reality of first love. So, no lovable woodland creatures this time...

The first thing I must mention is that fans of Miyazaki's earlier work may be put off by the serious, meditative tone he brings to his final film. When soot gremlins hit the fan, they hit it hard. Thankfully, Miyazaki has lost none of the awe and wonderment that makes his work stand out. He is perhaps the only director alive today who could make you delight in the curvature of a fish bone or emotionally invest in a vehicle (take note Cars, just don't come back).

This sense of majesty is mirrored in Joe Hisaishi truly breathtaking score. Hisaishi perfectly captures Jiro's childlike energy, as well as complementing the dramatic moments with virtuoso skill. His score, along with Miyazaki's ever-stunning imagery create a superb blend of solemnity and playfulness.

The voice cast, too, is extremely impressive. In the English dub, Joseph Gordon-Levitt provides his usual blend of likability and vulnerability that makes him the perfect star. Emily Blunt, as Jiro's lover Nahoko, makes a compelling case that Edge of Tomorrow may not, you know, suck. Stanley Tucci is on top form as the deliciously flamboyant Caproni, the Italian engineer who corresponds with Jiro through a series of wonderously realised dream sequences. Martin Short is genuinely hilarious as comic-relief Kurokawa, Jiro's grumpy and overbearing boss; who happens to be a dwarf. Special mention must go to Werner Herzog as Castorp, whose soothing tones and welcoming voice are sure to make him a fan-favourite.

Luckily, all are dealt a pack of aces in Miyazaki's most realistic and sombre screenplay to date. Jiro, for instance, isn't your typical hero. He isn't particularly charismatic or even special, other than his naive and uncynical worldview. He's simply a good man, trying to do the right thing. The supporting players are a richly-drawn and memorable gathering of well rounded, deeply human individuals. Even for a movie filled with daydreams and pure happen chance, The Wind Rises is the most natural and emotionally resonant animated movie I've ever seen.

A lot has been made about the supposed politics behind the movie, with some claiming Miyazaki glorifies the Japanese military. This is, for lack of a better term, utter bollocks. The film isn't about World War II, or even Jiro's inventions. It is the tale of one man's dream and the growth he must go through to achieve it. It is an ode to creativity, the rush of invention and the thrill of seeing your creations take shape. Caproni even says: "Airplanes are not tools for war. They're not for making money. Airplanes are beautiful dreams. Engineers turn dreams into reality" Saying this movie is about World War II is like saying 2001 is about a giant fetus floating in space.

The Wind Rises is also the director's most personal film to date. There does seem to be a autobiographical element, with Caproni telling Jiro before his retirement "Artists are only creative for 10 years" If you know the background of the production, this line registers as an interesting nod. Miyazaki at first didn't want to make an 11th feature, planning to create a manga version of The Wind Rises. It took producer Toshio Suzuki to convince him to make it into the film we have now. Perhaps Miyazaki is saying filmmakers are only creative for 10 movies? If so, he couldn' be more wrong...

The Wind Rises is an indisputable masterpiece, a heartbreaking tale of the cost of creativity. It's a movie you'll walk out of wanting to do something, even if that something is sitting on your arse and writing a review of it. A beautiful, philosophical movie that truly transcends its format, becoming something else entirely: art. If this is to be Hayao Miyazaki's final film, it is the perfect swansong to a perfect director...

Five Word Verdict: A powerful, essential modern masterpiece
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on 21 February 2015
didn't quite enjoy this film as much as I enjoyed miyazaki's other movies. I am a huge anime fan especially Miyazakis works with my fave being spirited away, mononoke and howls moving castle. I guess all of them have the fantasy element and obviously that is what originally drew me to his work, so with this film I found that there wasn't any of that fantasy element and I found it quite bland. I can never fault Miyazaki's soundtrack of the film and his art direction- he is a genius and I am always impressed by that aspect and brings back so many memories of my childhood in japan. The whole focus being about a man who wants to build aeroplanes was not something I found very exciting as they kept rambling on about the mechanics of building a plane. The ending was sightly disappointing for me and i didnt feel content after the movie had finished, just felt like something was missing. I will try to watch the film again and see if i can draw out something else from it as I did with his other films as it didnt leave any kind of imprint for me.
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on 2 March 2015
Moving. Semi Autobiographical Story of the renowned Japanese Aircraft desiginer Jiro Horikoshi (22/06/1903 - 11/01/1982) who is most famous for the creation of the "M6 Zero" fighter plane. The movie starts when Jiro is probably about 10 years old.? with him dreaming of becoming a Pilot? Viewers need to remember that WW1 had not yet started in Europe at this date? and Jiro fantasy dreams of ?"Zeppelins" droping Bombs? and although this had been predicted by the author H.G. Wells in his 1908 Book "The War in The Air" did not occur until 31/05/1915 when the German Zeppelin "LZ38" attacked London in the first such raid. Indeed at the time of Jiro's birth. the "Wright Brothers" had just made the first powered flights. and Airoplanes were mainly used by the military for reconaissance purposes? and did not generally carry weapons until late in WW1. Jiro also created several other aircraft designs to the "M6 Zero for Mitsubishi. including the "A5M" the"J2M" and the"A7M" amongst others.
Most of the Historical facts depicted in the film are true events. althought as others have noted. some have been altered for dramatic effect by the films director Hayao Miyazaki
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on 2 March 2015
Ever seen a film that doesn't warrant a particular emotion or response and you just sit there quietly with a plain face until that film is done? You don't speak, or move or blink. You just watch it in it's entirety and then realize that you just watched one of the best films in your life.

This describes my experience for this masterpiece. I really hope we get to see at least one more film by the god Hayao Miyazaki is because this was excellent.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 May 2014
This "final" animated cartoon from the revered Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki is by turns visually striking, shocking, humorous and moving, providing an insider's insight into Japanese culture and history in the period leading up to World War Two. It is loosely based on the life of the designer of Zero fighter planes, Jiro Horikoshi, who was determined to match Western technical expertise, but appalled by the devastation of war: he was fascinated by the birdlike speed and beauty of flight, and in the process turned a blind eye to the destructive power of bombs until it was too late. Like other geniuses whose skills have been harnessed for evil ends, it was perhaps too much to expect him not to pursue his research.

In a touch of magic realism, the young Horikoshi meets in his dreams the earlier pioneering Italian aeronautical designer Gianni Caproni, who acts as his mentor and inspiration. There are breathtaking images of a major earthquake with the ensuing fire that destroyed much of Tokyo in the early 1920s, fanciful ideas of planes, developed through painstaking research into real prototypes, and the beauty of the green countryside with sudden bursts of rain and wind.

Although long, this film is completely absorbing, as the director's fertile imagination keeps one feasting on each scene before it vanishes. Above all, it provides a more sympathetic appreciation of the chain of events which dragged Japan into the war which destroyed it for a while, and enables one to perceive the Japanese of that time as people with real emotions and aspirations. As one watches the progress in developing planes, there lurks in the background the knowledge of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters to come. Yet, the film contrives to end on a constructive note: "Le vent se lève et il faut tenter de vivre".
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The Wind rises was Hayao Miyazaki's final film before he retired and is rather different from many of his previous efforts. He has, so I gather always been a fan of planes, (even his company Ghibli is named after an Italian WWII plane referenced in this film) so it's fitting his final piece be about something he is clearly passionate about.

The protagonist is a loose look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a japanese plane designer following his dream to design planes as he can't fly them due to his eyesight. The plot jumps between the reality of his development of planes and some slightly surreal dreams showing his desires pushing the plot along.

These visions are probably the most interesting aspect of the film to be honest though they don't really fit with the rest of it very well because unless you're really into Japanese period historical dramas or planes it has none of the Studio Ghibli magic i'm accustomed to. The film is incredibly slow with a surprisingly low amount of actual planes, just following Jiro accomplishing pretty much nothing for two hours. There is a love story aspect thrown in but it feels forced and pointless, it was surprisingly boring.

The animation is, as I expect from a Ghibli production, stunning. The various plane designs, colours and lighting are all gorgeous. The music score is also excellent if melodramatic due to the plot. The English voice dub is of extremely high quality starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.

I'm not really the romantic sort so this probably wasn't a film I was going to ever enjoy but I expected it to have a lot more direction and not to drag on anywhere near as long as it did regardless. A real disappointment.

+ Stunning animation.
+ Excellent English language voice acting and music.

- Extremely slow.
- Overly long.
- Lacks focus.
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