Blu-Ray Review: The Wind Rises

Many of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films were flights into the supernatural. For what was originally his final movie, Miyazaki gave us a flight that was grounded in a biography yet still managed to find the fantastical in the main character. Jiro Horikoshi was a real person although The Wind Rises goes beyond reality in telling his story. This is about what a man went through in order to fly even though the airplane that was the culmination of his genius would prove to be too beautiful and so destructive.

As a young man, Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dreams of flying airplanes except he doesn’t have the vision required of a pilot in the post-World War I world. He wear thick glasses for his nearsightedness. But in his dreams, he can fly as well as envision the future of aviation design. In his dreams he keeps running across Italian airplane genius Giovanni Battista Caproni (Stanley Tucci). He knows of the designer from various magazines he collects on the subject. Caproni lets him in on a secret: that he can’t fly an airplane either. The dreamy pioneer inspires the young Japanese dreamer by telling him that designing an airplane is more exciting. Thus Jiro focuses on engineering and design in the rapidly growing field. While studying at university, the student gets shaken up by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. During his escape from the devastation, he helps Naoko Satomi (Emily Blunt) and her maid get home. But he leaves without giving his name. Jiro ends up in Germany to get a peak at the airplanes created by Hugo Junkers. He also gets a taste of the Nazis that have taken power. He’s not excited about the future Germany might offer, but falls for the majestic nature of Junkers newest advances. Jiro fights with the feeling that as he develops his greatest idea for an airplane that the military is going to turn them into killing machines. He and Caproni discus this matter in one dream. Later he reconnects with Naoko, only to discover frightening news about her. Jiro has to choice what he’ll do with his heart and his dreams.

The Wind Rises is no longer Miyazaki’s final film since he got bored of retirement and decided to create on last film that’s due out in 2023. But this changing of status doesn’t lesson the film’s impact. The two major themes are still emotionally yanking. First being what can you do when you know that your ultimate dream is going to be ultimately twisted by other? Jiro wants to make the perfect airplane. He has no plans on how to install weapons on his wings. The second is about the fragility of life and love. Can you embrace a relationship that you know will have a tragic end in the near future? Can Jiro turn his back on either? Miyazaki and his crew have made a film of such beauty and emotionally hard questions. This isn’t a praising biography of Jiro and his creation of the Zero. Miyazaki digs deep which is why The Wind Rises is one of his finest films and shows that he wasn’t ready to retire from animation.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the beauty in the animation. The audio is DTS-HD 2.0 in both Japanese and English tracks. They did a fine on both tracks so you can listen to either. The movie is subtitled in English and French.

DVD features the film and some of the bonus features.

Storyboards (126 minutes) is the entire film in storyboard form.

Behind the Microphone (10:46) lets Gary Rydstrom go into how he directed the English track for the movie. He sums up the film as being able whether it’s worth it to be passionate about something that will end badly. Stanley Tucci, William H Macy, Emily Blunt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski talk about revoicing the movie. Sadly there’s not time in the sound booth with Werner Herzog.

Original Trailers and TV Spots (9:30) includes the teaser trailers that ran in Japan from when the film was called We Must Live.

Film Completion Press Conference (82:39) features Miyazaki, Hideaki Anno and Yumi Matsutoya. Yumi’s song “Hikōki-gumo” is featured on the soundtrack. The tone of the conference is about Miyazaki’s legacy. Even though he hadn’t announced his retirement at this time, there’s a bit of chatter about growing old. What’s interesting is how he talks about how he didn’t do extensive research in Horikoshi’s life because the movie wasn’t supposed to be a straight biography.

10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki Documentary Episode (49:32) is episode 4 “No Excuses.” He is supposed to start work on The Wind Rises, but is stuck. The camera follows him around the Studio Ghibli studio office. He’s not always cheerful and tells one worker that if he can’t deliver and expected standard, he should quit. He questions how he can make a film about the creator of the Zero. They show off his original comic book version of the story. This gets deep into seeing the director bring his film to fruition. I want to see the other three episodes of this series that aired in 2019. This bonus feature alone is worth upgrading from your old Blu-ray.

GKIDS and Shout! Factory present The Wind Rises. Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki. Screenplay by: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Edie Mirman, Mandy Patinkin, Jennifer Grey and Stanley Tucci. Rated: PG-13. Running Time: 127 minutes. Released: September 22, 2020.

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