Miyazaki Showcase: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

July 10, 2004 on 11:38 am | In Nausicaä | Comments Off on Miyazaki Showcase: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Miyazaki Hayao took one of his manga series and made it into a film. On the strength of this film, Miyazaki and Takahata Isao formed Studio Ghibli. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, therefore, can be considered an honorary Studio Ghibli film.

One thousand years after the Sea of Decay formed, humans have survived but are slowly being killed as the Sea spreads. There are many forests where insects work. The humans randomly try to kill the insects or work with them. In this post apocalyptic world, Princess Nausicaä lives in a valley (of insect sympathisers) protected from the Sea of decay by the salt winds that blow in from the ocean. Lots of wars break out between many different factions during the course of the film, and there’s a plot to resurrect a flame giant. It’s all quite complicated, on a level that Miyazaki didn’t attempt again until Princess Mononoke, and while the film is self contained it’s clearly part of a larger story.

This is a great film; there’s a continuity error towards the end that turns out not to be an error at all but part of a grand scheme. Miyazaki is not a careless writer or director, so the realisation of just what has happened is an outstanding pay off.
There are so many factions and so many characters that the only one you can ever be sure of is Nausicaä herself. Everyone else has cloudy motives, plans to use the same thing for different purposes and different justifications for their actions.
The only innocents are women and the inhabitants of the Valley of the Wind.
There’s a short bit of comic relief in a trio of old men; three old people are universally a ticket to comedy, but this is a serious film and they aren’t given too wide a rein. Still, they are there and are welcome for their loyalty to Nausicaä.

There’s a lot of story, and it is layered so well that when one thing bursts into another it’s a pleasant surprise to see previously unrelated things working in harmony. This sense of unexpected events that have been seeded all along works in favour of the film’s suspense.

Even the desert world is interesting, because it’s another law of anime: deserts are boring, but giant skeletons spice them up. The post apocalyptic technology is weird; perhaps tellingly the innocent citizens of the Valley of the Wind live in fairly organic stone buildings with windmills drawing on the power of the land. They fly on the currents of the wind and ride on flightless birds, whereas the misguided have giant battle ships. The “deadly” forests that house the sea of decay are overgrown and beauteous, and an excellent place for the insects to work.
The whole project suggests that humans, through their misunderstanding of their situations, make them worse. Killing giant insects isn’t going to make things better. This has always been Miyazaki’s message: humans are always to blame, and only the young can solve the problems caused by the old.

Hisaishi Joe’s music is usually perfect for context when it comes to Ghibli films; here, however, it captures the spirit of the eighties. This is great as it really fits the film. It’s an old style post-apocalyptic world, so the “ultra modern” sound track is perfectly suitable. What can a fictional future possibly sound like? It sounds like the eighties, that’s what.

Despite being part of a whole that spanned many years, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind contains itself well. It’s good enough to stand by itself, but it doesn’t have to, and began a legacy of its own.

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^