I have several “theme days” on this blog (Sunday Devotional, Thursday Quote Day). For the next several Mondays, there will be “Miyazaki Mondays”. Each Monday, I will highlight a film written, produced and/or directed by famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. I have been a fan of his work for a long time and have written articles as a contributor over at JustUsGeeks.com on his work. But I thought it’d be cool to share on here some of my thoughts on his work.
For this week’s “Miyazaki Monday”, I want to look at his first feature film as a director on his own. That film is the 1984 classic Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is about a young princess named Nausicaa who must lead the fight to save humanity while also trying to protect the world as well. It is a post-apocalyptic world that has left much of the world toxic to humans except for pockets of settlements. One of these places is the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaa lives there but also travels throughout the toxic areas to try and figure out how to heal the land. She is the one that is foretold in prophesy that would help bring harmony between the people and the land. However, she must face off against giant toxic insects as well as humans whose fighting led to such dire straights.
It was a huge success when it was released in Japan. To this day, it is still considered one of the greatest anime (Japanese animation) films of all time. The story of its subsequent releases in the States is a story in its own right. A variation of the film appeared in 1985 under the title Warriors of the Wind. That version was nothing like the original as there were over 21 minutes cut from the film. This would lead Miyazaki to have a strict policy of no cuts for future international releases.
With the success of later Miyazaki films, a new version of Nausicaa was released in the U.S. with a new English dubbing in 2005. The cast included Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Mark Hamill and Shia LaBeouf. I watched this film for the first time around 2006 (thanks to Blockbuster by Mail DVD service). I liked it a lot. It reminded me of other 1980s anime with a mix of the movie Dune in the lens of other Miyazaki films. Then again, since this was the first true Miyazaki film , I guess it’s better to say it was the precedent for what was to come.
If you’re not familiar with Miyazaki’s work, this is a good film to start.
To close, I want to share this video with you. It was from 2006 when Turner Classic Movies (TCM) was featuring a month of Miyazaki films and it was cohosted by John Lasseter (head of Pixar and Disney Animation) who is a friend of Miyazaki. I hope that TCM or some other network does another one of these series again to include some of his newer movies. Here is the one for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: