‘The Wind Rises’ movie review: A sensitive, lyrical valedictory for Hayao Miyazaki

February 20, 2014 9:13 PM

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With that caveat in mind, it’s possible to admire and even enjoy the world that Miyazaki invites viewers to enter, in this case Japan during the 1920s and ’30s, when the nearsighted, airplane-obsessed Horikoshi, unable to become a pilot, instead turns to engineering the flying machines that course through his dreams like giant, enchanted birds. As often as not, he also dreams of an Italian aeronautical designer named Caproni, who appears throughout “The Wind Rises” like a benevolent muse. Miyazaki uses Horikoshi’s life to illuminate some of the most distressing chapters of Japanese history, including the country’s crippling economic depression, the devastating Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and a tuberculosis epidemic that, in the film, winds up playing a role in Horikoshi’s courtship of his wife, Nahoko.

There are no fanciful creatures in “The Wind Rises” and, with the exception of a few nods toward Japan’s animist tradition, few instances of Miyazaki’s taste for the supernatural. But the movie still possesses the filmmaker’s characteristic sense of wonderment, as Horikoshi embraces his vocation wit...

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