Over the last decade or more, Hayao Miyazaki, one of the few lingering animators to still work in hand-painted frames, has talked about retirement several times. At 73, the premier Japanese animator of Studio Ghibli can no longer endure those 12-hour-or-longer days attributed to his earlier efforts on My Neighbor Totoro (1988) or Princess Mononoke (1997). Miyazaki’s son Goro has taken up his father’s legacy at Studio Ghibli, directing Tales from Earthsea (2006) and his father’s script for From Up on Poppy Hill (2011). The torch has been passed, albeit not as brightly. But if there’s any film in Miyazaki’s body of work which would bid an appropriate farewell, it’s the film he claims will be his last, The Wind Rises, the writer-director’s eleventh feature in his 35-year career. In this his poetic and masterful send-off, Miyazaki ruminates on themes and components that he’s explored since he began, from aviation to unforgettable dream sequences, from his pointedly humanist worldview to characters who are stricken with illness. Moreover, Miyazaki demonstrates, one last time and perhaps more potently than ever, that animation isn’t just for children.
From the outset, Miyazaki’s film is worldly and sophisticated, certainly Japanese in voice but also containing its author’s affinity for European culture. The title comes from Paul Valéry’s poem The Graveyard by the Sea... Read the full article