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The Wind Rises: movie review

After a string of deliriously tall-tale epics (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle), 72-year-old Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki shifts gears with this historical biopic about interwar aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi (Hideaki Anno). Saddled with eyesight too poor for piloting, the visionary becomes a designer in the mold of Italian trailblazer Giovanni Caproni, who appears to our hero in a series of fantastical, prophetic dreams. From engineering school in the 1920s to high-stakes assignments for Mitsubishi and the pre-WWII military, Jiro is driven by simplicity and toward his beautiful, TB-battling future bride, Naoko (Miori Takimoto).

Whenever Jiro’s brainstorming about aerodynamics and sending winged prototypes into an endless blue sky, The Wind Rises soars to life, offering hand-drawn imagery more seductive and persuasive than any motion-capture product. Yet even Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli wizardry can’t ward off this story’s jinxes. Jiro’s genius is godlike, but his personality is nonexistent; time is too-briskly spanned, then ground into blow-by-blow melodrama. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a film, animated or otherwise, with a more honest or nuanced take on the amorality of innovation. That Jiro’s planes would become wartime killers doesn’t lessen their elegance, or simplify Miyazaki’s identification with their creator.

Follow Eric Hynes on Twitter: @eshynes

Release details

Release date: Friday February 14 2014
Duration: 126 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
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