"The director says he was
inspired by something completely apolitical, a quote he read where Jiro
said: All I wanted to do was make something beautiful."
First, I want to say that Miyazaki is one of my favorite film makers. My children have almost every movie he has produced on CDs. I love how his movies do not define "good vs evil" and how he creates strong female protagonists. The artwork is amazing!
As someone who teaches the history of art through cultural histories, I find this story of great interest. I know little about the art of Asia and the Far East, but do know very well how Germany has handled this same exact problem through the arts...I point to the artist Anselm Kiefer and the film The Reader as examples. Art can be a cathartic medium for a society to deal with these kinds of atrocities and move into the future.
What do you think?
Animated Film On The 'Kamikaze Plane' Hits A Nerve In Asia
Studio Ghibli/Walt Disney
The latest film from celebrated Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises, centers on the engineer who designed the plane used in the kamikaze attacks during World War II.
Oscar-winning Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki created beloved films such as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. But his latest film is drawing unusually sharp criticism.
The Wind Rises
is no ordinary tale: It tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the Japanese
engineer who designed the Mitsubishi Zero, the fighter plane
(in)famously used in kamikaze attacks in World War II.
have called the film "right wing" and said it "glorifies Japanese
imperialism" and "depict[s] oneself as the victim and portray[s] the
calamity of war, but fail[s] to point out the cause."
has been no less vociferous: it's been called "anti-Japanese" and
"dim-witted." One commenter asked, "Wouldn't it be good to ban the movie
that this traitor created?"
These intense responses have their
roots in the sensitive issue of World War II history — particularly in
Asia, where memories of Japanese aggression and atrocities are still
very much alive.
A warplane designer may seem like an unusual subject for Miyazaki. His last film, ,
told the story of a goldfish princess. But he's long been fascinated by
aircraft and aviation — and in fact, his father worked at a company
that provided the rudders for the Zero.
No Clear Heroes Or Villians
The Wind Rises is much like Miyazaki's previous works. His stories don't have clear heroes and villains; The Wind Rises is no different.
Miyazaki says he knew what he was getting himself into with the film.
knew a film about a warplane designer would raise questions among our
staff and the rest of Japan. So I hesitated before making this film,"
Miyazaki tells NPR. "It has been a long time since the war ended in
1945, but Japan has not really come to terms with neighboring countries
about that part of history."
World War II history has led to contentious relations among East Asian countries.
South Korean commenters point out the Zero was made with forced Korean labor. South Korean President Park Geun-hye without an apology for wartime "wrongdoing."
In China, the anniversary of the 1931 Japanese invasion, and an ongoing conflict over a group of islands, has .
And in Japan itself, there have been , and calls to change the country's "Peace Constitution," which was adopted after the war.
who was born in 1941, says "outdated nationalism" in Japan reminds him
of the time leading up to World War II — which led to his decision to
make this film.
A Complicated Character
The director is adamantly pacifist, yet The Wind Rises revolves around a complicated paradox.
central character is a young man who dreams of creating the most
efficient, the most beautiful plane," says filmmaker Linda Hoaglund,
Miyazaki's former translator who has subtitled five of his films.
"Because of the historical circumstance, he has no choice but to be
complicit in a war that winds up proving disastrous for his country."
points out American audiences are likely to see the film differently
than those in Asia — an outgrowth of U.S. victory in the war.
grew up in Japan. In school there, she was taught that kamikaze pilots
were heroic martyrs. Later, she realized many Americans considered them
suicidal fanatics. That led her to about surviving kamikaze pilots, who she says face the same problem as the engineer who designed their planes.
were 18-, 19-year-olds desperate to live, but their country and their
military had backed them into a situation where they had no choice but
to accept the order," Hoaglund says. "This image of young people who are
idealistic and want to serve their country, but are ultimately betrayed
by their country in their choice for war, is something that you can
also see in The Wind Rises."
When Miyazaki is asked if
Horikoshi, the Zero engineer, is a tragic figure, he responds:
"Everyone who lived during that doomed era was a tragic figure. All we
individuals can do is live our lives as best we can."