Chris & Marcey’s February Movie Exchange: Week 1 – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

Movie Exchange

What’s a Blog-a-thon? This movie exchange is a challenge, its participants have chosen films the other has not seen to watch and review.
Chris’ criteria for Marcey: Japanese Anime of the 1980’s
Why Chris Chose This Film For Marcey: The first film I have chosen for Marcey is the 1984 classic Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. This film is one of my favorite animes of all time. It is also legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s second feature film, although many would consider it to be his true debut as the film is not only the beginning of Studio Ghibli, but also because it covers many of the themes and messages that Miyazaki has covered in all of his films. I chose this for Marcey because she has never seen it and basically because it is one of the greats. I hope that she enjoys it as much as I do, but I guess that time will tell.

nausicaa

Marcey’s Review
I am glad Chris chose the theme of 80’s JapAnime for our Movie Exchange this month, as these are films that I haven’t seen much of and really should. For Week 1 I was given Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, I film I hadn’t really heard of. This doesn’t seem to be a film that gets brought up a lot in terms of Hayao Miyazaki, others such as My Neighbor Totoro or Princess Mononoke seem to be the titles talked about. Nausicaa was the second film directed by Miyazaki, the first solo effort though, in which he wrote and directed.

In watching Nausicaä, the themes that would go on to be present in his later films are definitely here, and this one is a little rough around the edges, but an engaging and beautiful piece of cinema. The film takes place 1000 years after the Earth has been devastated and human life seems to be barely hanging on. Insect life is running wild, and there is a poison that grows within the Sea of Decay. Hope comes in the form of the Princess from the Valley Of The Wind, Nausicaä. She is a young woman who embraces all life, and knows there is a way to save the Earth without resorting to violence and bloodshed.

spores

Yes that may be a very basic plot line, but for those who haven’t seen the film I would hate to ruin anything. I knew next to nothing about this film, I watched the plot and characters unfold, and I was left to my own devices to work things out, and it is best experienced in this way. Miyazaki isn’t a filmmaker who hand feeds the audience, the audience is left to figure things out. During the first 30 minutes or so of the film, I was confused, I was piecing together this piece and it was fun doing so. Working out who Nausicaä is, and what has happened to the Earth is a big piece of this film, and working out there are other humans on the planet with their own agenda’s of how to save it is also a big piece.

All these elements come together by the second half, and the mission of Nausicaä becomes ever so important, with a huge time factor. She is an amazing character, a beautiful and strong willed warrior, at one with nature. This is the perfect example of a strong female character, that in Western animation seems to be so lacking. Nausicaä is well developed, you know her very quickly and she is easy to follow in this film. Her peaceful demeanour and emotion over every living creature is something we could all learn from. The message of the film is brought forth through her actions, it is a message that is hard to ignore.

omhn

The film speaks a lot about the human relationship with the Earth, it is getting poisoned now, and we do need to take care of it. The fact that this film is over 30 years old with a message that is probably even more relevant today is quite outstanding. It also has a lot to say about human interactions, the need to over take another place, the violence that will lead to peace, which never feels like the right way. It brings forth all of these things in a way that never preaches, but makes the audience think.

Other aspects I loved about the film were the score by Joe Hisaishi, it never entirely felt like it suited the themes of the film, but it perfectly captured everything. It is hard to explain, but it was perfect for the film, in a very strange way. I really did love the animation, it may not be as exciting as future Miyazaki films, but it was quite beautiful and the creature designs were down right terrifying at times. Overall there isn’t much to fault here, the pacing through the first half is a little off and it can drag a little but the second half flows quite well. I really enjoyed this film, and it is definitely going to be one that gets revisited.

Rating
StarRating-04-5

You can purchase Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind from Madman – http://www.madman.com.au/catalogue/view/3368

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