24 December 2011

Happy Holidays and Movie Review: Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind

Happy holidays everyone! I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable season through Christmas, the New Year, and all of the other holidays that you, your friends, and your family enjoy celebrating.

I'm glad to be able to post again for a second time in a month, and both the holiday well-wishes as well as the subject of the post (movie review!) are good excuses. You can likely tell that I'm not the tweeting type, and I need to have at least something substantive to put on the blog. I opened this blog up so many years ago for two main reasons... one was to make sure that people knew that both Megane and myself were still active and posting. The non-cynical reason was so that I could post quick-hit reviews of MSTings, movies, and other stuff that came our way (like Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic).

Unfortunately, the world of online MSTing has all but dried up, so that leaves movie / television show / anime reviews. Again, many thanks to NetFlix for tonight's selection, the 1984 Studio Ghibli production of Nausicca in the Valley of the Wind

As quickly as the movie starts, the art is already off of the charts. The initial scene (a deserted city) is empty of people, but it is still filled... with artifacts of plants, fungi, and animals (specifically insects). Spore sacs blast pink clouds and the art gains more color, though it is still a bizarre mix of Dr. Seuss with realism, almost as if the artists were trying to figure out all of what they could get away with and still be believed.

And this is a world that will allow you to immerse yourself into it. On the outside looking in, I can see where some people may immediately fold their arms and refuse to believe in a world were the "toxic jungle" is coming to wipe out all humanity, especially if they are of the opinion that ecology (and specifically pollution) is not a major concern. The world is just different enough (and there's so little ability for the story to try to latch on to "Earth history" so to speak) that this may as well be one of the planets surrounding Alpha Centauri.

It is a longer movie, and there's quite a few messages that Studio Ghibli packed into it. The aforementioned ecology message (which seemed very similar to the one in Mononoke Hime), the pacifism of the main character who is very adamant about the lack of necessity of killing, and her very singular focus on not only trying to understand the world around her, but actually LIVING in the world around her. Nausicaa is the type of person that will adapt to any situation and immediately be not only trying to figure out how she can make herself work with it, but she would be thinking of all of the characters around her first.

I say that, and maybe this may be the start of a few posts in this subject, but the above description may sound like a Mary Sue. I truly believe that this is not the case. She does have clouded decisions, the pacifism at one point turns into a rather bad decision down the road as the rest of the world intrudes on Nausicaa's titular valley, and seems so very reckless in many cases. The selflessness would almost become overbearing, and there's probably a terrific article lurking somewhere about how Miyazaki was able to show a protagonist that had so few "flaws" but still felt... human.

While the soundtrack did dip into the 80's in a few regrettable spots, overall it was a terrific movie and very understandable why both Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli were able to build such a subsequent catalog of movies. This movie is definitely between a 3 and a 4, and I would certainly enjoy seeing it again when given the chance. There are certainly places that can be pointed out as weaknesses, but the movie is overall terrific and you'll almost find yourself not necessarily as a viewer but as an experiencer.

We'll see you again in 2012, hopefully with our completed project soon!

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