The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Waiting for Intermission: Review of "The Wind Rises"


Animated films contain the power of the visceral experience. These films manipulate color, sound, and texture to fully immerse audiences within a new world. They provide understanding to events through a different form of literacy.

When it comes to animated films, there is no better master than Hayao Miyazaki. He ends an illustrious forty-year career with the film “The Wind Rises”. This fictionalized history follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a Japanese aeronautical engineer.

He strives to create beauty in the rapidly industrializing world of interwar Japan. In the midst of successes and failures, he falls in love with the beautiful Nahoko Satomi (Emily Blunt). With sensational animation and a refreshing portrayal of Japanese history, “The Wind Rises” becomes a kind of “Tempest” performance for Miyazaki, employing imagination to create an intense visceral experience for its audiences.

Miyazaki conveys visceral experience largely through the cyclical theme of wind. Wind reflects the film’s sense of timelessness. Miyazaki displays incredible pacing by establishing only a few time codes throughout the film. Inconsistent time coding physicalizes the slipperiness of time, where whole years can pass in moments.

Any historical context then becomes an invasive force intruding on Jiro’s desires to create airplanes for his people as opposed to warfare. Visceral animation strengthens these themes by making the wind its own character. The wind shimmering through the grass takes on an aqueous quality that instills texture within the film, grounding audiences in both spatial intimacy and time. Even Nahoko is drawn with wind constantly flowing through her hair and dress, making her very presence part of the wind itself.

Animation also provides literacy to events outside western memory. The most prominent example is with the depiction of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The beautiful animation shows the Japanese landscape reverberating in thick defined vibrations. Debris floats down from an ashen sky.

Clear transitions from the initial tremor to the aftershock place audiences in this horrific moment. Coupled with nuanced dialogue, animation becomes a platform for western audiences to understand Japanese history. To understand the world of Jiro/Miyazaki’s creation, one must be first welcomed into it.

Unfortunately, a couple elements of the film may turn away some American audiences. Pacing may come off as slow for those fans of the fast-paced action film. More pressing are the quiet allusions to the atomic bomb. Some moments seem to foreshadow the brutal end of Japanese involvement in the war, including a German engineer’s snide remark that “Japan will blow up.”

Although Jiro muses that his airplane designs—which would be used as Japanese fighter pilots—“fell apart at the end,” no specific references were made to the end of the war. It retains the timeless feeling of the movie, but it just misses what seems to be one of the central messages of the film: imagination can provide escape from the horrors of reality.

If reality becomes destructive, then creative minds are needed to rebuild that society. Even a simple clarification of that societal context, which they mention in detail throughout the film, would have been enough to advance that them without demonizing Jiro or ruining the film’s cultural influence.

For the best enjoyment, watch the film in the original Japanese. Even with English subtitles, this tale carries the most agency in its native language.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Communiqué Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *