The next stop in the Sci-Fi Chronicles book is a long overdue check-in with Miyazaki, the famed writer/director who has envisioned so many incredible tales. This time around, it’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I didn’t have access to a subtitled version, so I went with the English dubbed (subtitle is ALWAYS the preference, but at least this one boasts a pretty fantastic cast), but I settled in for this classic animated tale.
Set 1,000 years in our future, Nausicaa (Alison Lohman) is a princess, a bit of a warrior and a pacifist, her home, the Valley of the Wind, is situated on the edge of a giant poisoned jungle overrun by giant insects. It is also caught between two warring nations that are on the verge of destroying themselves and the very planet they live on.
Having its basis in a long running Manga series, the world, in its first moments on the screen is completely realised, and establishes very quickly that not only animated titles need to be exclusively the realm of children and family films. There is a powerful story here, as well as some well thought out science fiction themes.
Nausicaa is able to commune or at least understand the animals and insects of the area, and, as such, is able to live in peace with the planet. Unfortunately, the rest of the nations around the Valley of the Wind aren’t as concerned about the jungle, the insects or their neighbours.
The climax features air battles, morals, and a strong resolution.
Filled with a bevy of gigantic insects, strange flying vehicles, giant frightening insects, an important ecological message, and iconic images, this one is a great ride.
There is a lot going on in the film, and Miyazaki fills it with incredible images, an engaging story with an important message, a commentary on war and living in harmony with the planet, and on top of that, a sense of exploration and adventure.
I quite enjoyed this one, and though I would have preferred the subtitled version, the more recent dubbed, Disney edition not only features Lohman, but includes Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Chris Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, and Mark Hamill.
Miyazaki proves, once again, that he is, in fact an international treasure, a gifted storyteller, and knows how to balance his stories with his messages, and make them engaging and entertaining.
This one just wants me to dig through his entire collection one at a time. Maybe soon, but for now, there are other films to explore. But I’ll take recommendations if you have them…