Monday, August 23, 2010

Hayao Miyazaki's early post-apocalyptic film "Nausicaä"

IO9 points us towards a film, ground breaking for it's time and still wildly influential in film making today. IO9 blog point out that Hayao Miyazaki's 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Can now be viewed free online.

Hayao Miyazak created movies like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, (I can not suggest strongly enough that Spirited Away is a MUST SEE) Nausica is one of his earliest efforts and is absolutely brilliant. The Manga influenced anime film concerns Earth a 1000 years in the future after a bio-tech war that caused a eco-disaster. Human civilization has been destroyed, small human settlements survive, widely separated from each other by a toxic environment flora and fauna that seemed bent on destroying what is left of humanity.

Here is the Wiki article and the complete IO9 article Here is the movie link

Valley of the Wind review

The first thing I want to say about this movie is that it isn't the New World Pictures 1980 edit of the original film. From what I have read, the film that was released in 1980 was a heavily edited to the point that many of the narrative and plot elements were lost or reduced. The links I have on the blog are for the 2005 re-dubbed and uncut release. I think this is an important distinction to make because the two different edits for all intents make two substantially different films. The 2005 release is how director / writer Myazaki intended.

So what did I think of what many are calling Myazaki's life's work? For it's time it must have been considered ground breaking and considering the main message of the film – way ahead of its time.

The film has a pretty heavy handed environmental theme. With the advent of global warming, it is fairly well accepted that man has played a major role in unbalancing the environment. But for a early 80s movie to champion the idea is a neat hat trick. That being said, the environmental message of the film is pervasive. Hardly a moment passes without some reference to the main thread of the movie which escalates towards the end of the film into an outright harangue on the evils of man and the beauty of the animals (who up until a few moment ago were hell bent on making every human within reach as dead as possible)

I really loved the look and feel of the movie. What we would recognize today as steam-punk, represents the level of tech of the human world. You get the feeling that everything is kind of a one off hand built feel. The flora and fauna reminded me strongly of Fantastic Planet, both elements were enthralling to watch.

However the price you have to pay for those captivating moments is mounting environmental body blows culminating in a soliloquy from the blind woman Obaba who tearfully recants her hate and fear of the Ohmu (gigantic armored caterpillar like insects who until a few moments ago were killing anything that moved) because she didn't realize how “beautiful” they were.

The proselytizing quite frankly put me off. I generally enjoyed the film, but have never warmed up to heavy handed message movies. You however might be different and the film may indeed be perfect for you. For me, at the end, I was flinching and twitching.

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