Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Kaze no tani no Naushika; animated science-fiction adventure, Japan, 1984; D: Hayao Miyazaki, S: Sumi Shimamoto, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Goro Naya, Iemasa Kayumi, Ichiro Nagai, Yoji Matsuda
1,000 years in the future, after the catastrophe "Seven Days of Fire", the whole planet has become a polluted desert while colonies of giant insects infiltrate further and further into human cities. Yupa, an old man riding some sort of ostriches, flees from an angry Ohmu, a giant, 200 feet long arthropod, and meets again with princess Nausicaa, giving her a raccoon as a pet. They return to their kingdom of the wind, a real oasis, but then a giant cargo airplane crashes on their territory, carrying the God Warrior embryo that was once responsible for the Earth's apocalypse. The next day evil princess Kushana of Tolmekia kingdom and her troops invade the valley in order to steal the God Warrior and use it against the kingdom Pejite in a war and to destroy the giant insects. Evil henchmen kidnap a baby Ohmu and lure a wild army of giant Ohmu's towards the valley, but the God Warrior melts away. Nausicaa is able to calm down the Ohmu's and bring peace.

Cult anime "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" is a hermetic mix on the brink between "Dune" and "Starship Troopers", and, like most serious Hayao Miyazaki films, it's not intended for kids, but for adult audience, while it was even banned on Polish territory - maybe because it depicts a dark vision of an apocalyptic hell-world were giant insect rule the surface? Among the bizarre insects are grotesque dragonflies and Ohmus, 200 feet long, giant blue crustaceans with 14 eyes - phantasmagorical anatomy of imaginary creatures and ecstatic animation are trademarks of Miyazaki's opus, but his later film "Princess Mononoke" depicting the past really seems like a copy of his prior "Nausicaa" depicting the future: except for strong environmental messages, San is practically identical to heroine Nausicaa, but a weaker derivative - while San is more of a supporting character, violent and blurry, Nausicaa is undoubtedly an overweening person and a pacifist (in the scene where her new pet, a mutated raccoon, bites her on the finger she doesn't resist but passively gives it to him, so long until he feels remorse, lets go and as an apology licks her wound of the finger). Dressed in blue clothes she really looks great and manages to persuades the others to make a difference. The story is pretty raw, chopped up, too serious and messy, making some fans of the manga even say it was Miyazaki's worst film, prior to his Ghibli phase, but even though the famous director himself said he isn't completely satisfied with the finished result, the film is truly well made and has poetry (the magical finale where Nausicaa is walking on golden tentacles of Ohmus), diving in and giving a deep glimpse into an alien world.



J Luis Rivera said...

You in a Mizayaki kick? Thanks for the reviews! After watching "Totoro", "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle", I've been wanting to watch more of his work but didn't know why. NOw I know I'll check "Nausicaa" first. Sounds like my kind of film.

Marin Mandir said...

He, he...yeah, you can say I'm in a Miyazaki "phase" right now. "Nausicaa", when compared to many of his "family" animes, really stands out with it's raw and dark style. But his "Princess Mononoke" is his darkest film until now - it tops this one with it's brutality and ferocius tone.