Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

Kaze no Tani no Naushika

Title: é¢Øć?®č°·ć?®ćƒŠć‚¦ć‚·ć‚« (NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind)
Year: 1984
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoshihiko Sakakibara, Ichiro Nagai (original Japanese version); Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos (American version)
Rated: PG

Reel Reviews Rating:


Kaze no Tani no Naushika takes place one thousand years after “The Seven Days of Fire” resulted in nearly wiping out the human race and destroying the earth’s environment. The human survivors were scattered throughout the planet, forming small pockets of society. Most of the earth is covered by the Fukai, a dense jungle with giant ferocious insects and poisonous plantlife. Humans who venture into the Fukai are required to wear a facemask, or else risk inhaling spores that will slowly rot their lungs.

NausicaƤ (Shimamoto/Lohman) is a princess of the Valley of the Wind- a small, pacifist town near the Fukai. She’s courageous, intelligent, very loving toward her people, and has the ability to understand insects. Lord Yupa (Naya/Stewart) is the best swordsman in all the land and NausicaƤ’s mentor.

The people of the Valley of the Wind have long learned to live in harmony with the Fukai in their backyard, but that harmony is horribly disrupted when two warring societies, the Tolmekians and the Pejites, literally coming crashing in the peaceful little town. It’s up to NausicaƤ to guarantee the safety of her people and the survival of the Valley of the Wind.

Even though this film was made in 1984, I didn’t really feel that it was dated. Sure, the animation is not as polished as subsequent Miyazaki films, and yes there were some cheesy sounding 80’s electric drums during some parts of the movie. However, the art is still beautifully done. For example, there is a lot of detail in their renditions of the Omhu, the insect featured on the movie poster.

As for the characters…I really liked Lord Yupa. He is a badass, and I wish that they had featured him more prominently. I thought that there was too much focus on NausicaƤ. Yes, she’s the title character and all, but it would have been good to develop some of the other characters more. In spite of focusing a lot on her in the film, she still seemed a little two dimensional and not have any faults. As someone pointed out in the IMDB NausicaƤ forums, she seemed too perfect. Similarly, Kushana (Sakakibara/Thurman), the warrior princess of Tolmekia, was also very two-dimensional. I guess they were trying to establish her as the foil to NausicaƤ- cold, savage, calculating, and willing to destroy anyone or anything that gets in her way. I would have liked for her to be a little more well-rounded.

Unfortunately, since our DVD player doesn’t have a working remote, we (my bf and I) were unable to watch Kaze no Tani no Naushika in the original Japanese with subtitles. I feel though, that the American dubbed version was relatively ok, but I can’t make a complete judgment since I can’t compare it with the original version. Patrick Stewart was in fine form as as the voice of Lord Yupa. Then again, Patrick Stewart is good at almost anything he does. Alison Lohman was pretty good as NausicaƤ, though on the IMDB, some complained that her voice was too high pitched. I was pleasantly surprised that Uma Thuman didn’t portray Kushana in an over-the-top manner. I was almost expecting her to reprise her irritating, overacting version of Poison Ivy in Batman and Robin.

The plot itself carries strong anti-war, pro-environmentalism messages that are a trademark of Miyazaki films. The idea of primitive post-apocalyptic societies struggling to survive is nothing new in movie plots, but Miyazaki puts his own spin to it. I find it interesting that the humans are portrayed as small, relatively weak creatures compared to the insects of the Fukai. The tables had turned on the most powerful race on earth; in NausicaƤ, it’s the humans who are at the mercy of nature.

For those new to Miyazki’s films, this is a good start since it’s one of his earliest works; however, it’s not as good as his subsequent films. Like I said, it’s kind of dated, the characters could have been more interesting, and the anti-war message could have been delivered with a less heavy hand. Furthermore, it was said that even Miyazaki himself wished he could change the film’s simplistic ending, which in a way he does so with Mononoke Hime, a more well-balanced film with a similar message. Regardless of its weaknesses, Kaze no Tani no Naushika is a classic, and I highly recommend watching it.


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February 8, 2006 - Posted by | Action, Adventure, animation, Drama, Fantasy, Foreign, Miyazaki Films, Sci-Fi, Social Commentary

2 Comments »

  1. I’m not familiar with Miyazki’s films. It would be interesting to rent at least one to see what these are all about.

    WC

    Comment by Wild Child | February 8, 2006 | Reply

  2. Wild Child- I recommend you hold off on renting a Miyazaki film until you read all my reviews, so you have a better idea of what you’d like to rent. Or you can rent all of them šŸ™‚

    Comment by Toni | February 8, 2006 | Reply


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