Kaze tachinu (2013)
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Subdued, resigned and mature, pacing slow and deliberately, contrasted with all but the most somber of Ghibli material. Miyazaki himself admitted the autobiographical slant in this work, that he saw himself as the last of a dying breed in the ominous shadow of industry, that he accepted his unique spirit of natural wonder might die with him, but at least he would enjoy it whilst he had it. This theme runs as a poignant undercurrent throughout, weaving around the life of an aeronautics engineer as he quietly follows his calling through the second world war. It's delicate, painful, and patient in a way in which only the old or very wise can perceive, inspiring those betrothed to the wings of dreams to soar, even in a world more suited for a fatalist. A thoughtful and beautiful ending to a rich legacy.
A great start and an even better finish, but sadly the film lags a little in the second act. Thankfully the animation is stunning throughout, to the point where you could freeze any single frame and hang it on your wall and it would be guaranteed to look fantastic, which seems to be the norm for Miyazaki's work but is nevertheless exceptional and worthy of praise. Still though I personally rather missed the usual Ghibli fantastical elements and lush worldbuilding, which only make fleeting appearances in dream sequences. The trademark Miyazaki child-like sense of wonder and awe has been replaced with, ironically, a much more grounded realism, but this only serves to demonstrate that he really is capable of pulling off pretty much anything, even if he is at his best when it comes to whimsical fantasy. Despite some flaws this is still a beautiful film in every way possible, and is a fitting way for the Japanese master to bow out, especially given his fascination with flight.
Absolutely gorgeous and Miyazaki's most emotionally resonant work. A perfect note to go out on.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #6 in Paste's The 100 Best Anime Movies of All Time
This movie ranks #67 in Cahiers du Cinéma's Annual Top 10 Lists
This movie ranks #361 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films