Nausicaa Valley Of The Wind -
Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):
As fresh as a daisy : After being blown away by `Princess Mononoke', `Spirited Away', `Howl's Moving Castle' and a couple of other Studio Ghibli movies, I was really looking forward to viewing this earlier offering from that same studio. And in only a couple of ways does this film show its age and mark `Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind' as being one of the first films in this studio's collection- (1) The soundtrack is pure 80's techno, which I found to be the perfect accompaniment to the ecological/adventure plot and (2) Not only is the story as originally scripted as you would expect being one of Miyazaki's first stories, but it's also a fantastic adventure to boot. Somewhat surprising is that the animation is not one of the areas where this film appears dated- as I watched I found it incredible that this film could have been animated over twenty years ago. I don't know whether it's been digitally re-mastered, or if it's simply the transmission on DVD, but the animation is truly superb.
If you wanted to be brutally honest you might say the occasional scenes involving movement are a little flatter in comparison with some of this director's most recent works, but in truth it's eye-poppingly glorious to view throughout and I especially marvelled at the insect creatures brought to life by the animators (the ominous `Ohmu' are particularly powerful). Strangely the DVD credits make no mention of the English speaking actors, perhaps because these voices were dubbed in 2004 with the release of this DVD, but still I would have expected some reference to their participation, especially since they're so proficient and well cast- Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart and Alison Lohman stand out among them. A nostalgic breath of fresh air, unashamedly enjoyable.
Anime-lover or not, this is a must buy! : I like anime in general but this film, perhaps along with Mononoke Hime, is in a category of its own. For me the environmental and peace promoting messages in Nausicaa Valley of the Wind are so well put I can't recommend it highly enough. The film doesn't preach at you and contrary to what another review said the anime is in no way offensive/inappropriate.
If you've bought another Ghibli film, my first was Princess Mononoke and second was Spirited Away, and have enjoyed them then this is a safe and very worthwhile buy.
Also if there are any first timers reading this then this film would be a great starting point, the only disadvantage is that when you start your anime collection with the ghibli films you set the bar very high.
I would also recommend buying from one of the cheaper sellers (on your top-right in the new and used section). 8.50 (inc delivery) is very reasonable compared to amazon and other internet/highstreet prices.
Complex, beautiful, moving and profound : This film is technically a "pre-Ghibli" work: Ghibli as such didn't exist when it was made. You can, however, clearly see where Miyazaki's style and preoccupations came from. I am a part-time science-fiction fan, and it has always saddened me to see that while reams of intelligent SF are published (consider "Grass", "The Sirens of Titan", "A Fire Upon The Deep", "A Requiem for Homo Sapiens", "The Cyberiad", Cordwainer Smith and many more) Hollywood generally takes the line that SF on the screen either means Star Wars (lots of whizzy spaceships, weird aliens and battles) or Alien (horrible monsters picking people off one by one.) Both of those are good films, but they have been far too much imitated because of their success, and the other things that written SF has to offer never seem to have made it to the cinema. "Nausicaä", however, is an exception. It is a film which, like a good SF story, always has something to reveal, introduces you to a well-designed and fascinating world, and plays out through the actions of properly-developed characters. If you want to see space battles and mindless action, or people being horribly murdered by alien creatures, this is not the film for you, but if you'd like to see some SF written for the heart and the mind instead of just the senses, I can't recommend it too highly--except to say that "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" may be even better.
The original Miyazaki masterpiece : Although less well-known than later Ghibli films such as Spirited Away, Nausicaa is (in my opinion) just as good as these films, and probably better in some respects.
For those who didn't know, Nausicaa was originally a manga by Miyazaki, which he was persuaded to make into a film. The manga is actually very different to the anime, so is well worth checking out if you enjoyed the film but were put off the books due to fears of buying the same story (which I have done with some "film comics" in the past...)
The first thing that struck me about this film was the quality of the imagery. It was made in 1984, and back then the art hadn't really been developed very far, plus the team was on a tight budget, so what they have managed to do is very impressive, and still stands up to scrutiny today. The opening shots are very effective at setting the tone of the film, with ruined villages offset by lush jungle and sweeping barren plains. The art style is consistent throughout, although occasionally the characters seem a little too cartoony against the more detailed backgrounds.
The story is quite complicated, and I didn't get all of it the first time around. The film is set 1000 years after a global war that destroyed almost all of civilisation. The few remaining humans have survived alongside the Sea of Decay (Poison Jungle in some versions), that covers most of the planet, and is ruled by giant insects called ohmu. The titular Nausicaa is the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a small, peaceful kingdom by the sea. It is the wind blowing from the sea that prevents the jungle's spores coming into their land, and the people lead happy, safe lives alongside the Sea of Decay. However, one day an airship from another kingdom, Torumekia, crashes in the Valley, and (without spoiling the plot), is found to contain something that has been proven to have the power to change the future of the Earth, which the Torumekians plan to use to their own end.
Although you will probably lose track of who's from where (another kingdom called Pejite gets dragged in as well), the plot is thrilling, awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. Be sure to sit through the credits, as they play over some shots depicting the events after the film, and help to bring it to a satisfying, if slightly clichéd, conclusion.
The sound in the film is passable, with the opening theme being the only piece that really stands out. The American dub is alright, but some actors seem awkward in their roles, and the script is (like most dubbed anime) changed quite a bit, although the same general messages come through.
The film is rated PG, but there is quite a bit of senseless killing, and some scenes would be scary for very young children. There is a never-dying rumour that Nausicaa isn't wearing any underwear, and there are a few shots of her bare behind, but she is actually wearing pale-coloured trousers, and the skirt-type garment is just her coat (everyone else is wearing one in later scenes).
Despite this, I would recommend this film to everyone, as it delivers everything you would associate with Miyazaki's other films; beautiful imagery, thought-provoking plot, frantic action and engaging slower scenes. No-one can be called a Miyazaki fan until they've seen this original masterpiece.
Triumph : It seems to me that Ghibli find it impossible to create a bad film! Nausicaa is yet another addition to their already high quality catalogue of animation. It follows a princess from a remote kingdom as she tries to save her people, the planet and keep the peace between the warring factions around her. The animation is outstanding and is less cute than 'The Cat Returns' or 'My Neighbour Totoro' and less fantastical than 'Spirited away', it is very gritty yet still as lush and detailed as all Ghibli animations. I'd say this is one aimed more at the adult audience and will make for a couple of hours great viewing. If you enjoy this film I highly recommend the seven series books, they expand the story and lend it a greater depth than the film and really give a good understanding of what the film is trying to achieve. What's nice is that they aren't created from film stills either and are actually books in their own right.
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