On the environmental escapism in Hayao Miyazaki’s sophomore feature film.
“It’s so beautiful. It’s hard to believe these spores could kill me.”
I want to be whisked away. Hell, movies like this are the reason why I like movies. They transport you to another world, another time, soaking you in all their visual grandeur and meticulous detail until you never want to let go. Escapism is good, pure fantastical bliss – grounded by a healthy dose of social commentary – is much better.
Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind is a gloriously ambitious piece of animation. Miyazaki presents a post-apocalyptic world brimming with nuance and individuality – blending the hostile environmental aspects of Miller’s Mad Max with the more wondrous, expansive elements of Lewis’ The Chronicles Of Narnia and Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings. He builds an entire world out from a single valley – a world that feels truly lived in. The wildlife and flora are all so beautifully realised onscreen. It’s impossible not to get sucked in by such a vivid display of colour and life.
And when you are, you’re greeted by a tale that genuinely feels ahead of its time. Humanity fucks up the planet. They did it here, and we’re certainly doing that at the moment. Consider the fact that America’s highest ranking elected official believes that global warming is a myth and this 33-year-old piece of eco-friendly cinema feels utterly revolutionary. I don’t know whether I should feel scared or impressed.
After being a little too young to appreciate Ponyo and quietly impressed (but never bowled over) by his debut, Lupin III: The Castle Of Cagliostro, I’m happy to report I’ve found the first Miyazaki film I truly love.