Monday, October 30, 2017

Sister + Friend Movie Review: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Cineplex has been having special screenings of Studio Ghibli films. Just over month ago, Sister, Brendan, and I got to see Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It has been described as "a Japanese-animated science fiction fantasy." It was directed by Hayao Miyaski and release in Japan in 1984. In 2005, Disney released an unedited redubbed version to DVD with Patrick Stewart and Uma Thurman both having roles. This was the version we saw.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world still recovering from a devastating war a thousand years earlier. Toxic jungles and enormous mutant insects have taken over most of the planet. There are few surviving human settlements and those are in constant threat from toxic spores that expand the jungles. Nausicaä is the princess of a small kingdom in the Valley of the Wind. She and her people become entangled with the actions of two other warring kingdoms fighting over an ancient weapon that could be used to destroy the dangerous and poisonous jungles.

Warning: the movie has been out for awhile and if you're a fan of animation and/or Ghibli films you've probably seen it. If that is not the case know that there are some minor spoilers in the review though nothing that gives away the conclusion.

The Good:
Brendan: The music was great, minus the creepy children song intended to be inspirational. The female lead was strong without the harshness that often is written into female leads. She was likable. The world was well developed and rich without the need for exposition or over explanation. It is a quality I enjoy in most Ghibli films.

Sister: Everything! This movie had so many great things, I loved the art, music and the main character. I think it is my favourite Ghibli film (of the six I've seen) because of Nausicaä.

Me: There is so much I enjoy about this movie. Since it on the big screen was fun and the quality of the art was not diminished. There are these long scenes that are exquisite, especially the early scenes establishing the toxic jungles. The whole thing is satisfying, weird at times, but satisfying. I think it is also one of the more accessible Ghibli films. 

The Less Than Good:
BrendanThe creepy children song was extremely creepy. The main villain woman had a weird line about losing a limb. It was odd, out of place, and uncomfortable. The giant "death machine" was underwhelming.  And there contradictions/continuity issues. The two most notice the ohm eye being thrown away and yet in the next scene, then thrown away, then back again. and the dress going from blue to red. All these are pretty minor that don't take away from the movie, well except the creepy children song.

Sister: I can't think of anything. It was all good.

Me: Watching it this time I really noticed the exposition. There were moments when a comment or explanation seemed forced. Characters that would know something being told a detail or someone talking to themselves about what they discovered so that the audience could know. Sister and Brendan didn't notice this and all the information was important to setting the world or story. So it's a minor issue that I probably only picked up on because it was my third time seeing the film. The other minor problem for me Brendan already mentioned, Nausicaä's dress changed colours from pink to blue. It felt like an error. I did some research after and the "discrepancy" is explained as her dress becomes soaked with blue ohms' blood. That might have been the intention but it was not clear to us. My biggest "issue" of our day had little to do with the actual movie. We were a few minutes late and therefore missed the very first scenes when Lord Yupa visits the town that had been taken over by the toxic jungle. I love the art of those scenes and was sad to miss them. They are beautifully done and introduce the world so well.

Favourite Character:
BrendanLord Yupa
Sister: Nausicaä
Me: Lord Yupa

Best Scene:
Brendan: Nausicaä's exploring of the world at the beginning of the movie
Sister: When Nausicaä was walking on the "fields of gold"
Me: Nausicaä's fall under the toxic jungle

Why Should Someone See It:
Brendan: If you are into anime or Ghibli films it is worth seeing.
Sister: Because it is an inspirational piece of art
Me: It's a Studio Ghibli film!

Brendan: 4 ohms out of 5
Sister: 4.7 pet fox-squirrels out of 5
Me: 5 gliders bugs out of 5

Finial Thoughts: We really enjoyed seeing Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and strongly recommend it. As Brendan said if your into anime or Ghibli films it is worth seeing. I would add any if you enjoy animation, even sci-fi/fantasy you'll probably find something interesting in the movie. The one thing I'd add, it's a different pace than current movies, this isn't a negative quality but something to keep in mind.

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