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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR STARS Jiro dreams of flying; literally, figuratively, metaphorically.


Starring Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto

Jiro dreams of flying. And with the kind of quirk that can only happen in a Studio Ghibli anime (creators of startling flights of fancy like HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE and PORCO ROSSO), he shares that dream with Caproni, an Italian aeronautical engineer. Quite literally – they meet up in dreams, share ideas, inspire one another. As Caproni says, 'dreams are convenient, we can go anywhere'. But for young Jiro, myopia cuts any aspiration to be a pilot short. Instead he trains to be a designer and in 1927, joins the aircraft division of a major Japanese company.

In what will be Hayao Miyazaki's swan song (the director has 'quite seriously' retired to make way for new animators), THE WIND RISES pays tribute to one of his country's greatest innovators while presenting a vivid portrait of a land long gone. Here is a colourful, at times fantastical view of Japan wracked by depression, social upheaval, war, disease and, as the story opens, the great Kanto earthquake that levelled Tokyo in 1923. This is when Jiro meets the girl who will become his one true love, and it is these events that shape the course of his life. It is also an unapologetic reflection on how fascism rebuilt a country, and how the genius of Jiro's work enabled that to happen.

This is a bold, visionary film which sees Miyazaki, at retirement, still at the peak of his illustrious career. It is hard to imagine any other historical drama that renders a world of such ugliness with such beauty and emotional warmth. Everything about THE WIND RISES resonates with hope and passion, even in its darkest moments. In its brightest, it flies on the wings of romance and poetry. THE WIND RISES is a thrilling, frightening, beautiful film; one that rightfully sits alongside GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES as a work transcending any outward purpose as a history lesson. And given Jiro's place in history, that's a daring position.

Despite his potentially soporific enthusiasm for the nuts and bolts of nuts and bolts, Jiro is a man who sees splendour and possibility in everything. A man crafted from the same materials as Miyazaki and like Miyazaki, with a world view that would transcend his life. Perhaps they too meet and inspire each other in dreams.

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