(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Wind Rises)
Doug (vo): Let's finish off Disneycember with The Wind Rises, Miyazaki's final film, which...yeah, he said that a couple of times before, but, hey, who am I to complain if he wants to make more movies? They're always great. As far as I know, this is the first time he's actually taken on a true story.
Doug (vo): The film centers on the life of a designer who created the Japanese World War II fighting planes. Many, many people would see this as a...bad person, but the film makes it very clear that all he wants to do is be innovative and push the boundaries of what can be done with technology. It's shown very clearly that even from his youth, all he's ever wanted to do was push the envelope. And the film, rather than focus on the controversies of what it led to...though, don't get me wrong, it's not entirely ignored either...focuses instead on the innovation and the imagination to bring these incredible wonders to life.
Doug (vo): In some respects, it's the most downplayed out of the Miyazaki films. I mean, there's not really any monsters or moving castles or anything like that. But he still finds a way to incorporate so much beauty and so much artistry into it. For example, he constantly gets visits in his dreams from his heroes, great inventors and creators who are constantly encouraging him to try and find a way to make himself even better. He also comes across some places that happen to look beautiful, and even survives an earthquake that, as you imagine, being a Miyazaki film, is pretty incredible to watch.
[Some scenes, mainly focusing on the main character Jiro, are shown]
Doug (vo): Again, one of the charms of Miyazaki is that you can be technically not watching much; just a guy working on a plane or talking about ideas or working with other people. But there's such a likeable ambition and atmosphere and environment to all of it. You want to get to know these people, you want to help them with their planes. And knowing Miyazaki's love for gears and gadgets, this film has all sorts of that: creating, building, failing, trying again, and you really admire this guy for having a dream, trying his damnest to follow it all the way through, even if in the end, it would amount to something horrible. As I said before, the film doesn't ignore the fact that this resulted in the deaths of so many people. There's definitely people dropping hints about the Nazi party and what he's getting involved in, and all the way through it, he doesn't know what to do, he just wants to create, he wants to be the inventor. I suppose a lot of people could look at him as a bad person for this, but it's also kind of like Einstein. He's the guy who created the Atomic Bomb, one of the greatest destroyers of human life, yet we still see him as a genius. And there's definitely people that don't like him, too, because of that. But there's no denying that there's still a brilliant mind at work that used a lot of creativity, imagination, and determination to do what they thought was going to be a great thing. And I think that's the best thing to admire about this film: the ambition. The ambition of the main character, the ambition of him trying to get his ideas done, and trying to do what he loves to do.
[Some of the film's final scenes are shown]
Doug (vo): There's a wonderful final image where he's discussing with one of his masters what he's done and what he's created. It's a beautiful yet haunting landscape of a bunch of people dead and planes destroyed, yet it's in this beautiful green field of imagination and possibility. It's such a weird mix, but it's also the perfect bittersweet sum-up to everything this guy was working for.
[Several of the film's romantic scenes are shown]
Doug (vo): The problems I have with the film are very minor. For example, the romance in the film, though I don't know the real story about it, seems a touch forced. He meets this woman by accident during an earthquake, and then years later, they happen to stumble across each other again, and even without knowing each other very well, they decide to suddenly get married. It's almost something like out of a 40s Disney fairy tale. Again, I don't know if that was intentional or if it was a cultural thing, but it was definitely a little odd. It's not that they have no chemistry, but for a film we know is supposed to be based on real life, it's a touch distracting. I also started to notice things that I guess I never really picked up from Miyazaki before that are also a little weird. Like, he never really does sweating or crying correctly. It always kind of looks like they have some sort of sickness.
[One of the film's side characters, Castorp, is shown]
Doug (vo): Plus, I know this guy is trying to be helpful and everything, but he scares the shit out of me. Something about those eyes, they just don't look right. It looks like some sort of weird demon, I don't know! Couldn't they have fixed that up or something?
[Various clips resume showing]
Doug (vo): But aside from that, this film is very obviously a romanticized version of true life events. Yeah, a lot of it technically happened, but it's pretty clear there was a lot of creative liberties, but never to a point where it's insulting. It's kind of like Tombstone. They got the basic story and people down, but, yeah, they obviously changed stuff up to make it flow a little nicer and be a little bit more epic, and you can usually tell when those moments are. I think what impressed me most, though, is only in the last 10 minutes was I starting to get a little tired and saying to myself, "Oh, I wonder how long this movie is." But then, when I checked out and saw it was 126 minutes, I couldn't believe it. Only in the last few did I realize how long it was, and through the rest of it, I was just enjoying it so much. I can't believe a biography about a guy making planes had me so invested and so drawn in that I was actually willing to sit there for 126 minutes without even realizing I was sitting there for that long.
Doug (vo): If this did turn out to be Miyazaki's last film, it would definitely be a good one to go out on. It's very clear that he has this incredible respect for someone that just wants to follow his dreams and do something incredible, failing time after time, but still getting right back up to try again. Much like Miyazaki, it's a guy who loves his work and loves doing beyond what he thought he was capable of. Definitely might push some people's sensibilities the wrong way, but I think the focus of the film was to look at the power of imagination, and perseverance, and hard work, and dedicating yourself to never giving up and doing something incredible.
[Various clips of other Studio Ghibli films are shown]
Doug (vo): And I can say that's definitely what I've gotten out of the Studio Ghibli films, a world of imagination, entertainment, and so much hard work that went into it. So many of these films are classics in a lot of people's eyes, and they deserve to be classics in even more people's eyes. People this dedicated, hard-working and are able to get their ideas to the big screen should be celebrated as much as possible. So thank you so much for joining me in this Disneycember. Like I said before, there are a couple of popular demands I'll throw in in January. But for the most part, I want to say, thanks to you guys for always making this such a fun experience to put these together, share my opinions, share yours as well, and keep talking about great artwork that comes from great people. Keep alive those great ideas, determination, artistry, and always allow great imagination to take flight.
[A scene, showing Jiro standing on a large plane and watching a large paper plane flying towards the sunset, is shown]