Monday, July 28, 2014

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind ★★★★

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    One of the most important aspects of an animated picture is the ability to create an atmosphere that provides feasibility and can simultaneously be aesthetically pleasing. Hayao Miyazaki is arguably the most skilled producer of these two facets in the animated genre of film. With lush environments and the artistic semblance of truth burning ever so brightly, Miyazaki's films have become universally recognized as the leader in the Japanese animation community and a staple among fans here in the United States.

    "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" is Miyazaki's second directorial ambition and the first picture in which he spreads the wings of his ingenious and imaginative prowess. A flawless amalgam of story and animation that breathes life into a film like no other of this era; the first masterpiece in a career that quite often pits human nature against the ever virtuous Mother Nature in a clash of ideals and understanding. With a magnificent score to accompany the brilliant flow of purity, "Nausicaä" is simply a joy to experience time after time.

    Our story settles in the distant future, in a world that has been ravaged by destruction. A ruination that has consequently birthed a toxic jungle, which extends to all corners of the land. Human civilization has been reduced to small kingdoms where the effects of the jungle are limited. And here rests our protagonist in one of these provinces aptly named the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaä is the princess of this land that is spared from toxins due to the wind that cleanses the air.

    She is angelic and caring for all living things, whether deemed good or evil. A manifestation of compassion and benevolence. We first witness the embodiment of these qualities as Nausicaä saves Lord Yupa, the resident master swordsman, from impending doom after he unintentionally angers an Ohm, a large armored insect that overruns the treacherous jungle.

Nausicaä among the subtle beauty of the Toxic Jungle
    The conflict centers on an opposing kingdom, Tolmekia, who intends to impose their will and revive an ancient weapon to eradicate the toxic plague that never ceases to subside. It will take Nausicaä, accompanied by her jet-powered glider and furry sidekick Teto, and a new acquaintance from the kingdom of Pejite to overcome these relentless forces and bring peace back to all lands.

    This film is abundant in action sequences, which are highlighted by the use of Nausicaä's glider--an extension of her limitless ability to reach out to the surrounding environment. She is the peacemaker and the only individual who understands the delicacy of the bond between man and nature. A showcase of the reality of the modern world and how that bond has become frayed over time.

    Miyazaki has essentially created a film that underlines the frailty of this connection and how ignorant man has been in regard to keeping this fellowship protected. Nausicaä's purity and innocence prevailing in a world filled with war and greed. A notion that is lost among the politics of today's society.

    It is quite easy to be swept away in a world created by beautifully hand crafted animation. Unlike a live action film or an animated film that utilizes computer generated imaging, hand drawn animation has a distinct texture and style that cannot simply be replaced by a computer. It entails craftsmanship and contains an animator's passion and determination.

    "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" is a film that displays this texture proudly. Miyazaki is the only animator who has not made the transition and has not strayed from hand drawn films. For this, I must commend him. Thus, a man who will not abandon his morals, even if they do not stand the test of time. Which is perfectly suitable, considering his films have.

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