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Review: 'The Wind Rises'

February 20, 2014 10:11 p.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews Hayao Miyazki's latest and possibly last film, "The Wind Rises."

Related Story: Review: 'The Wind Rises'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Because of deteriorating eyesight, legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki [pronounced HI-yow MEE-ah-zak-ee] has announced that The Wind Rises will be his last film. The Oscar-nominated film opens this weekend in both English dubbed and subtitled versions. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando picked it as one of her Ten Best films from last year.

WINDRISES (ba).wav 1:20

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Aaaah… that’s the sound of me savoring Hayao Miyazaki’s glorious hand drawn animation in his latest film The Wind Rises. American critics tend to describe him as the Japanese Walt Disney. But British anime scholar Helen McCarthy nailed it when she called him the “Kurosawa of animation.” Like filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, Miyazaki is a master storyteller with an eye for both intimate detail and epic scope. He also has a knack for stories in which the real and the magical exist side by side. For his cinematic swan song, The Wind Rises, he turns to the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter plane used in World War II.

CLIP sound of airplane engine

On the surface it’s a biography of Horikoshi. But on closer inspection it returns Miyazaki to the themes that have always fascinated him. He has never seen the world in simple black and white terms but rather in a dazzling array of colors. The Wind Rises is subtle and complex as it explores the distance between an inventor’s dream and the reality of his invention. Horikoshi designs a beautiful airplane that’s then used to destroy Japan’s enemy. At the end, an Italian designer notes, “Airplanes are beautiful dreams, cursed dreams.” This conundrum also extends to the artist who strives to create a thing of beauty in a world that may be an uglier reality. But Miyazaki’s tone is never bitter, just achingly aware of the contradictions in life.

The Wind Rises is breathtaking at times, and it reminds us of what a void will be left by Miyazaki’s retirement.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.