Round 5, Pick 4, March 4, 2021
Title: “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”
Writer and Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Genre: anime (Japanese animation)
Length: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Awards: 3 wins and 1 nomination
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 Japanese anime film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, based on his 1982 manga. It was made before Studio Ghibli was founded but most consider it a Ghibli work.
The story has the feel of a fable, with an iconic archetype that transcends any specific culture. Because this started out as manga, Nausicaä also feels like a superhero, fighting for what’s right (e.g. saving lives) and against what’s wrong (e.g. those who are trying to revive an ancient evil to eradicate something they just don’t understand.)
A little background information on her that I picked up at a fandom page:
Nausicaä is the eleventh child of King Jhil and the only child to live to maturity. She is rarely seen without her Mehve (glider) or her companion, Teto, the fox-squirrel. Some believe her to be “The Blue Clad One” from Dorok legends. She moved to the Valley of the Wind with her family when she was very young. Her mother had died around that time as well. She has a close relationship with her father King Jhil and tries to help him as his health declines due to the Valley’s proximity to the Toxic Jungle.
Setting (taken from wikipedia)
The story takes place in a future post-apocalyptic world. One thousand years have passed since the Seven Days of Fire, an apocalyptic war that destroyed civilization and created the vast Toxic Jungle, a poisonous forest swarming with giant mutant insects. In the kingdom of the Valley of the Wind, a prophecy predicts a savior “clothed in blue robe, descending onto a golden field.” Nausicaä, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, explores the jungle and communicates with its creatures, including the gigantic, trilobite-like armored Ohm. She hopes to understand the jungle and find a way for it and humans to co-exist.
The Valley is like paradise, a small village with a mill, where grapes and other food are grown and the villagers are bonded with each other. It’s one of the few places seen in the film where things seem “normal,” but it takes constant vigilance to keep the spores that float in from the Toxic Jungle from taking root.
The story begins with Nausicaä on one of her ongoing (and safe!) foraging and scientific forays into the Toxic Jungle, respirator on, when she hears a gunshot and the jungle insects start buzzing like mad hornets. She runs to her glider, goes airborne to see what’s going on, and sees across the far-reaching, and ever-encroaching desert a familiar face to her village, Lord Yupa, trying to outrun them. She does some slick maneuvers to save him and his pack animals. She gets an update on what Lord Yupa has seen “out there” and meets up with him later back in the valley. It isn’t long after that the Kingdom of Tolmekia invades and sets up camp, determined to wage war on the Toxic Jungle using an “ancient being of evil.” The symbolism is clear here that the ancient evil is nuclear weaponry. Instead of trying understand why the jungle soil has become toxic and filled with unfriendly insects, including the gigantic Ohms (imagine a roly-poly bug bigger than ten elephants,) they intend on a bloodbath for anyone in the vicinity, including the villagers. The Ohm, peaceful when allowed to live unmolested, become enraged when harassed; the herds can trample everything in sight. Nausicaä’s challenge is to find a way to stop the Tolmekians from their mad plan and keep the Ohm from decimating her beloved valley, while at the same time continuing her scientific research into the toxicity of the jungle.
Themes (from wikipedia)
The most prominent themes are the anti-war and environmental focus of the film. Nausicaä, the heroine, believes in the value of life regardless of its form and through her actions stops a war. Nausicaä, in addition to being a transformative force, leads people to understand and respect nature which is portrayed as welcoming, spiritual, and restorative for those who enter it peacefully.
Inspirations (from wikpedia)
Miyazaki’s work on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was inspired by a range of works including Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea, Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse, Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall, and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Nausicaä, the character, was inspired in name and personality by Homer’s Phaeacian princess in the Odyssey. Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune (1965) was also a major source of inspiration for Nausicaä. Miyazaki’s imagination was sparked by the mercury poisoning of Minamata Bay and how nature responded and thrived in a poisoned environment, using it to create the polluted world depicted in the movie. In 2003, an unedited and redubbed-in-English version of the film was in the works at Disney and was released in 2005. I was going to include a chart that showed all of the characters with
both the Japanese cast and the English dub cast, but size constraints changed my mind. The voices for the English dub include Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Chris Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, Tress MacNeille, Mark Silverman, James Arnold Taylor, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Emily Bauer, Mark Hamill, Jody Benson, with Tony Jay narrating.
It is frequently ranked as one of the greatest animated films ever made.
There is a wealth of trivia on imdb – and elsewhere – about the film. This is one I wanted to share with delight:
In 1985 a 95-minute dubbed adaptation, renamed, “Warriors of the Wind,” was made and released theatrically in the US, followed by a VHS release. It was adapted and re-released again in 1993 with more cuts that further extracted the intended message to be taken from the film. In 1997, writer and director Hayao Miyazaki was still so upset by the truncated “Warriors of the Wind” version of Nausicaä, that when Harvey Weinstein approached him to discuss the distribution to Princess Mononoke and insisted on a similar heavily cut version of the movie, Miyazaki angrily left the meeting. Several days later, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki sent a katana sword to Weinstein’s office with “NO CUTS” embedded into its blade. The movie was later released in the U.S. in its uncut version. During a later interview, Miyazaki commented on the incident by smiling and stating “I defeated him.”
What did I learn from this film? Fear can make people do stupid things. Having an inquisitive mind that goes to the source of things can make it easier to sort things out. Sometimes words are not enough and action is called for.
What did I like about this movie? I love the young female that is her own person, one who can think for herself and take action as needed. She is beloved by her community and serves as a positive role model to the kids. She is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the madness of unleashing evil and protecting those she cares about. The animation is first class and has such vibrant colors to it. I like the small details they pay attention to and the creativity of the jungle setting. I like how the villagers work together as a team to fight the menace of the toxic spores and to resist the invading soldiers. There are many good air machine flying scenes. One of Miyazaki’s interest areas is flying machines and he’s made several movies set in the air.
On rating scale of 1-10: 10
If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this film (and some of Miyazaki’s other films!) then you are missing out. Family friendly entertainment, but not a cartoon! (That would be like calling DaVinci’s Mona Lisa a scribble.)
youtube video link: https://youtu.be/OCerTWOyVZg