Hayao Miyazaki released an official statement to the media September 6 on his reasoning behind his previously announced retirement. While he says that he intends to keep working in various capacities for the next decade, he won’t return to the directing chair. The production period on his films continues to increase — his current film, “The Wind Rises,” took five years to make — and at that rate, he points out, “the studio can’t survive.”
He says that if he had any intention of changing his working style, which calls for him to take a pencil to thousands of drawings per film, he would have “come up with a better method… long before this.”
While he’s mentioned the possibility of retirement before, he made it clear that he’s “really serious this time… My era of animation is over.” He said that he would neither script, supervise nor involve himself with future Studio Ghibli projects.
Miyazaki fans can take heart that “The Wind Rises,” a fictionalized biopic of “Zero” fighter designer Jiro Horikoshi, is playing to good reviews on the fall festival circuit, and an awards season campaign is planned by Disney, who will distribute in North America. So we can delay our goodbye to this great filmmaker for a little while longer.
Check out our TOH! ranking of the Top Ten Studio Ghibli films, many directed by Miyazaki, here.
A review roundup of “The Wind Rises” is after the jump. Check out the trailer here.
The ambitious The Wind Rises is something of a special case
that will divide audiences into two camps, those who find it an unforgettably
beautiful and poetic ode to life, and those who tune out to its slow-moving second
act, which can wear down the patience of even the well-disposed. On the other
hand, the daring subject — the engineering of technically advanced war planes
by the Axis powers for use in the Second World War – is so honestly handled it
should not present a problem for Western viewers.
Hayao Miyazaki, the master craftsman of hand-drawn
animation, comes bumping into Venice with The Wind Rises, a gorgeous yet
ultimately frustrating tribute to the Japanese airplane designer Jiro
Horikoshi. Here is a film with a clean outline and a foggy centre. I wanted to
love it, tried to love it and then went down in flames. It turns out that it is
not always possible to view the beauty in isolation. Sometimes you need to take
a long, hard look at the outside world and then perhaps connect the two.
The grim subtext of “The Wind Rises” goes largely
unacknowledged, leading to a gaping hole in this otherwise beautifully realized
narrative that celebrates the power of curiosity as a motivating force.
For that reason, “The Wind Rises” can be largely
forgiven for its apolitical outlook, as Miyazaki trades an interest in the
ramifications of Horikoshi’s work for his continuing investment in it.
Horikoshi’s commitment to crafting an apparatus on par with the ethereal machines
he imagines can be easily seen as a vessel for Miyazaki to explore his own
creative process. Having proven his talent time and again, the master has
One man’s dream of flight and an entire nation’s dream of
technological and military supremacy give rise to “The Wind Rises,” Hayao
Miyazaki’s elegiac, hauntingly beautiful historical drama inspired by the life
of aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi, who designed Japan’s A6M (or “Zero”) fighter
plane. As grown-up as 2008’s “Ponyo” was tot-friendly, Miyazaki’s 11th feature
draws a sober, socially astute portrait of Japan between the two World Wars,
marked by flights of incredible visual fancy, harrowing images of poverty and
destruction, and touches of swooning romance.
As an avowed Miyazaki-ite, did I love The Wind Rises? On a
first watch, no – but it strikes me that fanboyish adoration would be entirely
the wrong response to this film, just as you wouldn’t walk out of a late-period
Ozu or Bresson punching the air and whooping for a sequel.
“Artists are only active for ten years,” one character tells
Jiro. “We engineers are the same. Live your ten years to the full.” Miyazaki,
who is both artist and engineer, has now lived his decade three times over, and
yet he continues to astonish.
So it seems both a reassuring assertion of identity and an
audacious imposition when Miyazaki finds room almost straight away in “The
Wind Rises” for extended — forgive me — flights of fancy: dream
sequences in which some airplanes seem to distort and grow plumage, gliding
(and falling) through the atmosphere with scarcely more human agency than the
eerily self-propelled steel creatures of Disney’s “Planes.” Speaking
of which, if we only needed one animated ode to the thrills of aviation on our
screens this year — and we do — this is certainly it.