Watching a good Ghibli movie is like getting hit by a train. Watching The Wind Rises is like falling into a sad and very beautiful dream.
The Wind Rises is a semi-autobiographical movie about Jiro Hiroshiki, an engineer who made airplanes–specifically, the airplanes used to bomb Pearl Harbor and begin Japan’s chapter in World War Two.
The most shocking thing about the Wind Rises–it’s been called morally repugnant. I can see where those views come from. But, as a work of art, I believe that the Wind Rises deserves the praise it gets, too.
Here’s why the Wind Rises is so controversial.
I knew the movie was two hours long. By one and a half hours, we were just getting into the thick of things–I thought. How’s it going to end? I wondered nervously.
Because what I thought–what I expected–would happen was this: Jiro, after much deliberation, moves himself to America and dedicates his talent to working for the Good Guys™ and fighting the evil supported by Japan. Right? He chooses the “right” thing in the end. Right?
That’s what would make it feel concluded.
But–he didn’t. The protagonist, a thoughtful, wise, well meaning man–he watches his dream–his airplane–take flight and then we see him leave it all behind, charred and crumbled by smoke and ruin. His wife and his airplanes fade away, carried by the winds of time.
That’s why it’s controversial. But then it made me realize–what constitutes good artwork? Is it the kind that follows the path we think it will and does what we expect, or is it the kind that takes a rapid plot twist and goes against our expectations, and makes us think? Life is not, I guess, divided between the good guys and the bad guys, and I respect Miyazaki for choosing to represent this realism.
Real artwork provokes real thought. And real artwork portrays characters realistically. In all realism, Jiro was somewhat of a passive character. He did what was easy to do.
“After all, we don’t want to destroy things […] we just want to build beautiful airplanes,” says his friend Kiro Honjo.
All Jiro wanted to do was follow his dream. And it was a beautiful dream.
The thing about dreams is we can’t live in dreams forever; even the most beautiful ones. What Jiro intended for good–somehow–through the mixed intentions of many people and general evil of humanity–became a tool of destruction. And, in the end, it passed away: a chasing after the wind.
“The wind is rising; we must try to live.”
A very insightful article I found on the wind rises is here.
Not every movie I see inspires me to write an article; but if you have thoughts on The Wind Rises or would like to discuss it, please comment below! It is an unexpected kind of movie, but sometimes those which are unexpected make us think. Tragedies, after all, teach us more about life.