director Hayao Miyazaki
It’s funny looking back at my prior entry in the film diary about Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which I last watched about six years ago. My kids would have been 4 and almost 2 at the time and they probably weren’t quite ready for the film, but I noted as I often have about how Hayao Miyazaki is the greatest feature animation director of all time, how I hope that he keeps making films forever, and how I want to raise my kids on his movies. Miyazaki may now have stopped directing films but I have indeed raised Felix and Clara on his movies, though in an oversight of mine, we managed to miss out on a couple. So, after watching Spirited Away (2001) the prior week, they were eager to see another of his films that they hadn’t seen.
The great thing about Disney releasing all of his films on DVD has been that this is not such an obscure passion as it could have been. I am sure that there are kids all over America, all over the world (not just in Japan), who are also reared with these films. I know many friends who also have shared these films with their children and have become favorites as well.
Nausicaä was the first of Miyazaki’s own creations that he wound up directing. The style definitely feels older, which are part of the charm of the film. Much of his themes and ideas are already present. Strong female protagonists, not the modern “girls who kick butt”, but rather characters who organically are the heart of the story, well developed, and integral. The threat of nature despoiled is the core of Nausicaä, as it is key to a number of his stories, a magical ancient world either destroyed or long-forgotten, re-connected with by the film’s heroes. And his fascination with flying machines.
His Studio Ghibli, the company that he formed after the release of Nausicaä, has released a number of fine films outside of his own. But Miyazaki’s films are in a class unto themselves, something impossible (or at least very difficult) to replicate.