Miyazaki’s Banality of Evil?
I’m going to be in the minority and say that The Wind Rises is a shame. It’s a shame that this will be Hayao Miyazaki’s final film. Perhaps there is more here than one can appreciate in one viewing. I’m not certain, but it feels like a disjointed experience.
The main character is a weapon designer, helping the empire of Japan enter the industrial murder age, just prior to World War Two. This is not a problem for him in the slightest. He just wants to design the best airplanes, despite what they are used for, such as bombing China or wherever. There is a complete disconnect, and World War Two itself is presented only in detached dream settings. It is simply a byproduct of the art of airplane design. The world may go up in flames elsewhere, but the planes are beautiful. It is this myopic view of technology and genius that is at the center of the story.
This very strange treatment of the second world war earned the film some shocked criticism when it released. Most people, however, are far removed from WW2 and view it as only a distant curiosity. But is Miyazaki one of them?
There is a strong nostalgic sense to this historical drama, like it was heavily influenced by childhood. Instead of the art of airplane design, the art of animated motion pictures can be substituted. Is the detachment of artists from the real world around them at the heart of this narrative?
Was this plot a device to show how art and reality diverge significantly, and that the artist has no responsibility to the real world? No accountability for the impacts of his craft? Is this Miyazaki’s admission that the artist is another Eichmann in the grand scheme, a cog in the machine without the obligation to challenge the world order?
A cop out?
The grand cop out?
I certainly do not hold this view, and I have railed against it at every opportunity. I did not find The Wind Rises to be an inspiring film, nor beautiful, nor life affirming.