One of the films I’m most looking forward to seeing at Venice in a couple of weeks’ time — and I’m not pretending this is a particularly original choice — is Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises.” Miyazaki is the rare animation director who has ascended to A-list auteur status, but while his last feature, “Ponyo,” arguably found him (literally) treading water, this ambitious new project represents an exciting creative leap for him. Dropping the fantasy that has dominated most of his features, the film is a fictionalized biopic of WWII fighter plane designer Jiro Horikoshi, as told in the work of renowned writer and poet Tatsuo Hori.
The film has already opened in Japan, where it has been, unsurprisingly enough, a smash. Trailers have therefore already been around for some time, offering tantalizing glimpses of visual spectacle that seems no less extravagant for being rooted in reality. Today, shortly after it was confirmed in the Toronto Film Festival lineup, we got a lengthy one with English subtitles; feast your eyes below.
When can we expect an English-dubbed version, you might ask? Well, it hasn’t been produced yet, and won’t be released in US theaters this year. (Disney, the company usually responsibly for releasing Miyazaki’s films in the States, hasn’t yet officially acquired the film.) However, we have word that Studio Ghibli will be giving the Japanese-language version a one-week Oscar-qualifying release this year.
That’s good news for this year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar race, which so far is looking a little short on quality candidates. Ghibli has twice landed nominations in the category, “Spirited Away” (which, of course, won the Oscar) in 2002 and “Howl’s Moving Castle” in 2005. Both were nominated in their English-language incarnations, but in a year heavy on sequels and studio filler, it’s as good a time as any for a foreign-language original to make the grade.
Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible that Japan could submit the film as their Best Foreign Language Film entry: they tried it with Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke” in 1997, and the new film’s serious subject matter and domestic success could lead them to take the risk again. With Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Academy-friendly Cannes hit “Like Father, Like Son” also in the mix, it’ll be interesting to see which way they go.
Check out the trailer below and share your thoughts in the comments.