Some of you might actually be amazed by how much I think the Oscars is full of shit. The Academy Awards get a lot of coverage on this blog, as well as special focus and analysis on the national radio show that I am the film and arts contributor for. But I DO realize it’s a political game, and that it’s extremely rare that the best are actually celebrated. “The Wind Rises” will apparently be the final feature of Japanese master animator, Hayao Miyazaki. It was given a limited U.S. release late in 2013, and went wider early the following year, after being nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Annual Oscars. It lost to “Frozen”. The fact that it was even a contest is ridiculous. “Frozen” is fun, singable, and great for the kiddies. “The Wind Rises” is the work of one of cinema’s true geniuses. Simple as that. Beating the big Disney machine at Oscar time, though? As we found out again earlier this week…it’s nearly impossible. So be it. But true discerning adults, who still believe animation is just for their little children, should experience “The Wind Rises”. It’s gorgeous and lyrical…and puts “Frozen” to shame artistically. Don’t believe me? You’re just a Netflix queue away from experiencing it for yourself.
If you choose this challenge, I would urge you to click on the option to watch it in the original Japanese, and avoid the American release voice-over with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt. They are fine performers, as are Martin Short, William H. Macy and Stanley Tucci (amongst other recognizable names), but it must pollute the film with a completely different feel. I wouldn’t know for absolute certain, because I won’t watch that version. But I’m certain I’m correct. So, honor the true story of Japanese plane designer Jiro Horikoshi, from his early life longing to be a pilot in 1918 (poor eyesight nixed those plans), to his Tokyo University years and the calamity of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, into Jiro’s engineer days at Mitsubishi, right into Japan’s involvement in WWII. It’s a love story about flying, but also a tale of the passion between Jiro and his true love, Naoko Satomi–expect it to touch your heart. And with interspersed fantasy scenes of Jiro’s admiration of the famous Italian aircraft designer, Giovanni Battista Caproni, it becomes a lush, dreamy chronicle of one man’s life, work and obsession. The film is gorgeous, and although it maybe avoids politics a little too much, it’s mature and unmissable. So, shut “Frozen” off, and give it a whirl.