Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (impressions)
From The Revolver @ http://brainstormat.blogspot.com
"Based on a 12th Century Japanese folk tale (“The Princess Who Loved Insects”), Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans struggle to live amongst poisonous fungus forests, mutant insects, and herds of giant blue-eyed slugs called Ohmu. The heroine, Nausicaa, is a chieftain’s daughter, lives in a small nation in a protected valley, and shares an empathic bond with the insects of her world; she firmly believes that humans and insects can peacefully coexist, despite the ever-present threat of the growing forests. She’s the archetype of the Miyazaki heroine: strong-willed, confident, and full of spirit.
The Valley of Wind suddenly finds itself in the middle of a war between two warring nations, Torumekia and Pejitei. The combatants disrupt the relative peace of the Valley and start shoving their weight around. A God-Warrior, the ancient weapons responsible for the destruction of civilization, is unearthed. Both sides vow not only to defeat their enemy, but to burn back the forests and reclaim nature. This sets the stage for a number of action set-pieces (including some terrific aerial combat scenes), moments of quiet introspection, a fair amount of light humor, and a search (by Nausicaa) to solve the mystery of the mutated environment."
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind review on The Ghibli Blog http://ghiblicon.blogspot.com/2009/07/nausicaa-of-valley-of-wind-2004-review.html
Nausicaa of The Valley of the Wind is definitely a classic in my book. It's one of Hayao Miyazaki's finer works, for sure. The plot was so original, moving, and unrivaled, you'd only expect something like it from the mind of Miyazaki.
Let's begin with the story, the plot, the most important part of the film. It's original, unique. No one can pull of an adaptation of a folk tale like Hayao Miyazaki. He blows the mere folk tale up to epic proportions, adds political twists that greatly impact the story, builds on the characters to sculpt them into believable, yet unbelieveable people, and inserts a great musical score. The story alone is certainly magnificent, in this timeless story of courage and compassion in the face of danger.
Next up are the characters, or most importantly, Nausicaa. She is not your typical princess. She would not shriek at the sight of large, revolting insects. Instead, she would approach them and speak kindly to them, and make friends with them, because she believed that insects and humans could coexist. She is not a stereotype. She isn't a "damsel in distress" that sits around and waits for her fated prince to save her. No, Nausicaa takes action, takes matter in her own hands, and even if she may be reckless at times, she ends up doing the right thing, for the better. That includes saving a tyrant that took over Nausicaa's village from a burning ship. That also includes standing on that burning ship, high in the air, and making herself completely susceptible to enemy fire, only to tell them to STOP. Nausicaa takes risks, but not foolish or petty risks, like dumping that boyfriend to get with that guy, or buy those heels over those flats. She takes risks for the better, for her people, for her home, and for the ones she loves.
The music is another reason why this film is worth watching. Haruomi Hosono is an extremely talented songwriter and composer. The music is a fourth of the reason why I loved the film so much. The compositions are individually unique; not a single one sounds like anything you've ever heard. They also vary greatly, from somewhat Indian tunes that give you an uplifting sense, to dramatic tunes that hold your attention, making you want to see what happens next, making you feel as if something unexpected would appear on the screen when nothing actually does, it's just the excellence of the tune. And then there's that mainstay tune that plays several times throughout the movie. The one with a child humming the same couple notes over and over. You're probably thinking this would get annoying. It doesn't. First off, the voice is indescribably cute, no questions asked. Secondly, everytime the tune is hummed again, more instruments and swells are added, making the piece even more and more epic. Add the nostalgic, slightly surreal scenes that always accompany this tune, and you have a surefire film that will be the talk of film composers for years to come.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is one of the best films I have ever watched. Ever. It is significantly different from the rest; it doesn't teach the same morals in a cheery, bright way like Disney does; it cannot be classified as an action or adventure film, although there is a lot of that. The meaning of the film is too deep, magnificent, enchanting, and the storytelling is too great, to be given that shallow label. The film Nausicaa should be in a category of it's own, and that category should simply be called "epic".