Last night we saw Miyazaki's new film "The Wind Rises" at the Rainbow (Cinema Seven) theatre. The audience was small, especially considering it was a Saturday night and the opening weekend for it here, so I strongly suggest that those interested in seeing it here in Regina go asap. They are playing it in Japanese on Wednesday but we have some conflicts so figured we'd watch it that way later on dvd.
The film was very quiet and thoughtful, punctuated by fewer than usual moments of action. It tells the story of an airplane designer in Japan between 1917 and 1940. Margaret was reading some reviews which suggest many people were upset by Miyazaki making arms merchants into heros, but that was really not the case. It is not a story about arms or war, nor is it about heroes or villains. The Germans are presented as distrusting as a group, but as individuals they are people. This is about people understanding the needs, passions, and desires of other like-minded people. The antagonist is the larger population, never other individuals. By looking at the role of airplanes in Miyazaki's previous films (especially Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso) it is certain that he shares this passion for aeronautics with the characters (loosely based on some historical people). They all want each other to succeed. What I felt was particularly uplifting was the way he and his friend/rival in the same company share ideas and build on each other's success rather than undermining and competing (as their boss was concerned they would). I also liked the pre-1941 discussion of inset rivets for the planes, something that was also described in a post 1941 Disney film made in the USA.
While rated G, the film is long (over 2 hours), quiet, poetic, full of dreams which blur with reality, and overall more than a little bit sad. It might not be the best choice for all little kids but William was quite engaged with it, as were all of the adults in the theatre.