Friday, 16 May 2014

The Wind Rises

It's hard to shake the idea that Hayao Miyazaki's latest (last?) is an autobiography of sorts. The Wind Rises is a film about the creative impulse and how it shapes lives. Miyazaki's Jiro Horikoshi is obsessed with aviation. In his dreams he communes with his idea of Italian aircraft designer Giovanni Caproni. The Count encourages the short-sighted child to channel his passion into engineering.

These meetings are scattered throughout the film, steering Horikoshi through his career. Interestingly, there's very little attempt to discredit these sequences with the kind of visual language usually associated with fantasies. They're lucid, instructive encounters that impart wisdoms and reorganise failure. Horikoshi's subconscious readings actualised as a paternal, jovial hero. There's also an idea that Horikoshi lacks any true peers, so he must create them himself.

Anyway, back to the idea of the film as Miyazaki's account of himself. Horikoshi is a slight smoker who loses himself in intricately detailed drawings. His life is experienced in short bursts, usually built around particular aircraft projects. Friends and family drop in and out the film, usually with little fanfare. Close associates describe him as insensitive and unfeeling, tallying with the Miyazaki alluded to in One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island. Work consumes Horikoshi, leaving very little time for anyone else. He has his stationary and his cigarettes, he doesn't need anything else. Even experiencing deep emotional turmoil, Horikoshi continues to scribble away. This single-mindedness is such that when Horikoshi falls in love, it actually feels like an upset in trajectory.

Maybe Naoko endures because she's a constant? Despite her illness she requires minimal upkeep, she's happy to spend her evenings holding Horikoshi's hand while he drafts planes. In describing this it strikes me that this sounds like a lopsided, even abusive relationship. It's actually nothing of the kind, Horikoshi and Naoko share a deep romantic love built on an unselfconscious stability. As with the rest of Miyazaki's films this is passion expressed through small physical gestures, and self-sacrifice. They're in this together, that's enough for them.

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