Monday, September 3, 2012

Family Movie Night: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Film: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Original Release: 1984
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Image via Daily Art Brigade
I have written of our family's love for Miyazaki's films before.  Suffice to say, the work of the Japanese master animator has been a very gratifying discovery for all of us.  Nausicaa was a pivotal film in the director's career.  Initially, he and producer Isao Takahata had difficulty getting backing for the story.  Studios were reluctant to invest in big budget animes without a comic book tie-in.  Obviously, the only thing to do was to make a comic book first.  So they did.  The Nausicaa manga series was a huge success.  Now offers for the film rights were numerous.  Miyazaki refused to sell unless he would be allowed to direct.  Tokuma Shoten agreed.  With the success of this film, Miyazaki and Takahata were able to launch their own company: the now legendary Studio Ghibli.

Miyazaki has attracted quite a worldwide following.  Here's the Korean trailer:

Nausicaa contains many of the elements which would become Miyazaki trademarks: stunning artwork, a strong female lead, morally complex characters, a sophisticated story, etc. Wikipedia's plot synopsis:
The film tells the story of Nausicaä, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind who gets involved in a struggle with Tolmekia, a kingdom that tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a jungle of mutant giant insects. Nausicaä must stop the Tolmekians from enraging these creatures.

Image via Japan Zone

As strong as this film is, it's not for the Miyazaki novice.  The story can be difficult to follow.  This was our second time watching and I was still grateful for Internet resources to sort out the intricacies.  I'm very curious about the manga.  The film only tells the first quarter of the comic book tale, whose run lasted until 1994, ten years after the movie's release.  

Image via

As is now standard for Miyazaki films, the English-language cast is packed with stars.  The DVD has a nice extra feature for Our Girl to match voices to faces she knows from other stories: Mark Hamill, Patrick Stewart and Chris Sarandon.  Alison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman and Edward James Olmos are also featured.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Picture of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind at Listal

Multi-generational considerations:
  • Much of Miyazaki's genius lies in creating films that are equally enjoyable for children and adults.  If you have tired of formulaic Disney material, Miyazaki is a powerful antidote, especially if you long for stories with strong female characters.

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.


  1. I love Miyazaki's films. My family has been collecting them ever since we first got Kiki's Delivery Service. Unfortunately, it was years before we found some of the other movies.

    1. Our new cat reminds us all of Kiki's cat, Jiji. Which film is your favorite, Charles?

    2. My favorite film would have to be Princess Mononoke, although it can be hard to choose because there are so many characters I like in each movie.

    3. Nice choice. Forced to choose, I'd go with Howl's Moving Castle, myself. I'm a sucker for any movie with Wizard of Oz allusions.

    4. Have you read the original book by Diana Wynne Jones?

    5. I would definitely recommend it, however the story line is much different. I enjoy her books a lot after being introduced to them by Howl's Moving Castle.