by Paul ValéryThe wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.
Yesterday we bid a happy retirement to Japanese director/animator Hayao Miyazaki.
I fell in love with Miyazaki the first time I saw my first Miyazaki movie, Spirited Away. After that I couldn't get enough, and although I haven't seen every single movie he has made yet, I have seen almost all of them. I love him because he understands me. He understands the whimsical, magical, innocent way that I view the world. He brings that world to life. I also love his films because they are not just movies, they are the perfect combination of art and storytelling. They are often light on dialogue, keeping to the show don't tell method of storytelling. There are no showy song and dance numbers, no goofy one liners that are thrown at you at full speed, no epic 3-D action sequences (not that I am completely against any of those things). He animates with such deliberate stunning detail. Some of his frames of animation are as gorgeous to look at as a painting in a museum. Can you tell I love him? But alas, in September Hayao Miyazaki announced that he would be retiring from film making after creating one final movie, The Wind Rises.
Since it was such a nice day, and we were desperate for fresh air, we decided to see the movie in the city. Usually it just ends up that a movie we want to see in the city is playing at the Ritz Bourse, I think we may have been to the Ritz East once or twice, but this was our first time seeing a movie at the Ritz Five.
We were just getting settled into our seats when a girl came running over asking about my t-shirt (it is a representation of some of the best Miyazaki film characters).
She said how much she liked it and then beckoned her dad to come over. He was wearing a t-shirt that was a mash-up of Miyazaki characters and The Wizard of Oz. It was awesome. The girl then took out her phone and showed me a picture from a Comic Con they attended. Her dad was wearing one of the best No Face (from Spirited Away) costumes I have ever seen and she was dressed as Kiki (from Kiki's Delivery Service). The girl's mom shouted over, "we're hardcore Miyazaki fans!"
That girl gave me faith in humanity. I wish we could have chatted with them after the movie, but we had to rush out and feed the meter before we got a dreaded Philly parking ticket. On the other hand, there was a group of 20 something year old girls sitting in front of us who were positively annoying and disrespectful. The romantic parts of the movie are lovely, sweet, and modest, and for some reason they found this absolutely hysterical. I guess they would have liked it more if there were hot heavy make-out scenes and people ripping each other's clothes off? They also couldn't go ten minutes without checking Facebook and Twitter on their phones. So by the end of the movie the score was 50% for humanity and 50% for its inevitable destruction.
The title, The Wind Rises, is based on a French poem. There were a lot of moments and themes that were woven in that seemed to be Miyazaki spilling his heart about this being his last movie. I felt like it was semi-autobiographical, but it traded a passion for film making with a passion for aviation. The movie is about a boy, Jiro, who is passionate about aviation. He is so passionate that he often dreams of airplanes. In his dreams he is accompanied by an Italian aviation engineer named Giovanni Battista Caproni. The dream sequences were some of the best parts of the movie. They were most representative of a Miyazaki film. In each dream, Caproni doles out inspiration to Jiro, and guides him in his pursuit to achieve his dreams.
The movie was rated PG-13 and was more of a straight movie compared to the more magical imaginative movies like My Neighbor Totoro or Howl's Moving Castle. It carried a lot of adult themes such as war, death and what happens when you create something for good that others use for evil. It was a beautiful film.
If you have never seen a Hayao Miyazaki movie, I recommend starting with either, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away or The Secret World of Arriety.
The name Jiro reminded us that we hadn't seen the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi yet, so when we got home we found it on our Amazon watchlist and pressed play. Afterwards we talked about how similar, though completely different genres, the movies were.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a documentary about an 85 year old Japanese sushi chef named Jiro.
He is considered one of the best, if not the best sushi chefs in the world. He's quite a character. He loves making sushi so much, he often dreams of sushi. Some of his creations have come from the dreams that he has had. The movie is less about sushi, and more about taking the thing you are passionate about and working hard, striving, to consistently elevate your craft. I found it quite inspiring.
If you have Amazon Prime, I highly recommend watching it, especially since it is currently free.
I enjoyed our wonderful day of passionate dreaming. I hope you have some passionate dreams of your own.
"The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!"