MOVIE REVIEW: Dazzling, puzzling 'The Wind Rises' turns dreams toward death

By: Tom Long The Detroit News
March 13, 2014 Updated: March 13, 2014 at 11:15 am
photo - Joseph Gordon-Levitt voices the main character, Jiro Horikoshi, in "The Wind Rises." Photo courtesy Studio Ghibli.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt voices the main character, Jiro Horikoshi, in "The Wind Rises." Photo courtesy Studio Ghibli. 

Starring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt; directed by Hayao Miyazaki; 126 minutes; PG-13 for some disturbing images and smoking; B-

Epic in scale and breathtakingly imaginative, "The Wind Rises" is also more than a bit odd. For one thing, it brings "Gone With the Wind" emotional-historical sweep to a piece of animation. For another, it's an admiring look at the engineer who designed the planes that bombed Pearl Harbor.

The apparent last work of Japanese animation genius Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle"), who has announced his retirement at 73, "Wind" is lovely, inspired and haunted by the mauling of invention. The film's hero, Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), simply wants to build beautiful things that fly and the only way to finance his dream is to transform those beautiful things into agents of death.

We first meet Jiro as a child. At night he dreams up high-flying adventures alongside an Italian aviation engineer (Stanley Tucci), and these dream sequences are visually astounding wonderworlds where the two converse while walking across the wings of planes.

When Jiro grows up, he sets off for college and ends up rescuing a young girl during an earthquake. Years later, when he's already a successful engineer, he meets the now-grown young woman (Emily Blunt) and falls in love. But she has tuberculosis, and in a decidedly old-fashioned way, their romance turns tragic.

Still, he has his planes, his work. Unfortunately, we all know where his work took Japan, and the world.

Miyazaki obviously admires Jiro's aspirations, even his achievements on a technical level. And Jiro certainly has reservations about what he's doing (although they never feel quite strong enough). Ultimately, pride and accomplishment collide with dark reality.

When Jiro dreams, "Wind" soars; when he comes down to earth, the film can feel a bit stiff and murky. But then, that may be the point.

Tom Long, The Detroit News

Comment Policy

LoginORRegister To receive a better ad experience

Learn more
You are reading 0 of your of 0 free premium stories for this month read

Register Today To get to up to 4 more free stories each and every month

  • Get access to commenting on articles
  • Access to 4 more premium pieces of content!
  • See fewer annoying advertisements
We hope you enjoyed your 4 free premium stories
Continue reading now by logging in or registering
Register Now
Already registered? Login Now