director Hayao Miyazaki
viewed: 11/23/2013 at the Balboa Theater, SF, CA
This viewing of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was at the Balboa Theater in the Richmond district of San Francisco as part of a birthday part for one of Clara’s good buddies. The theater had been rented and a DVD provided and popcorn, glow-bracelets, cupcakes and pizza. I even made Felix join us because I knew that the kids enjoyed it the last time we watched writer/director Hayao Miyazaki’s first feature film from his own script.
I recollected again about having seen the release of the film in 1985 when it was released in the US as Warriors of the Wind, a heavily edited version of the film with a perplexingly unrelated poster art.
It was interesting to think about it because of my own odd relationship with Miyazaki’s films. I of course had no idea who he was. I think we opted for the film because of the novelty of seeing Japanese animated films in 1985. I recall thinking it was “okay” but “not great”. I would like to think that this had more to do with the chopping and reconstructing that the film went through in the version that was Warriors of the Wind because I would like to think that if I had seen the original, or even the one with the 2005 re-dubbing, which this version we saw at the Balboa was, that I would have appreciated its qualities.
Of course, this time, the most recent Miyazaki film that we had seen was Princess Mononoke (1997) and the similarities in themes and ideas struck me considerably. The rage of nature as embodied by the forest and the giant animals reacting to the pollution and violence of humans. Nausicaä, of course, is set in a future world, or a foreign world, and is much less a stand in for Japan. And the creatures are not representations of traditional Japanese values and belief systems. Miyazaki hadn’t developed that angle yet in 1984. But his strong female leads were well in place. It’s interesting to note that the character of Kushona, leader of the war-like and destructive Tolmekians, has a parallel in Princess Mononoke of Lady Eboshi. Kushona is more purely destructive, going “nuclear” with the Giant Warrior, whereas Lady Eboshi’s greed and exploitation finds some redemption in the later film.
Of all the films that I’ve watched in the last decade since keeping this diary, Miyazaki’s are the ones that I’ve seen and re-seen the most. I do find it a tad tedious and occasionally daunting to write each time I re-see a film, but it’s also sort of the point of this diary, to explore each viewing for what it’s worth.
Definitely, the idea of renting the Balboa Theater for a movie-watching birthday party is really pretty damn cool.