Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

The debut film from master animator Hayao Miyazaki is a bit less impressive than the other films of his that I've seen, maybe because the themes that run through much of his work are nascent and thus unrefined. Instead of being carefully woven into the narrative, the tropes (like, say, the environmental concerns) are just laid right the fuck out. So it's not very subtle. It is, however, still a stirring and exciting entertainment. The action scenes are especially rousing, with Miyazaki's obsession with things that fly getting a full airing-out. Most interesting is the idea of Earth as a self-repairing (and self-defending) system, thus acknowledging something that most environmental-minded types gloss over: The idea is not to save the planet but the species. We should live in harmony with nature, not because it's "the right thing to do" but because the Earth can and will fuck us up but good. Maybe this film's just a dry run at stuff Miyazaki would perfect in Princess Mononoke, but it's still worthwhile. Lesser Miyazaki trumps most director's best work.

Grade: B+


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