The Trouble with The Wind Rises

Hayao Miyazaki ends a brilliant career on a shameful note

No surprise, then, that The Wind Rises has already created an uproar among South Koreans (who haven't yet seen the film), arguably the biggest recipients of Japan’s 40-year colonial cruelty (1905-1945). The Wind Rises’ specious pose of self-victimization will and should disgust the living survivors and their descendants in the myriad other countries Japan invaded during World War II: China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia; the list goes on.

It’s hard to believe that, were The Wind Rises set in an interwar Germany and focused on an idealistic dreamer who just wanted to design the world’s most beautiful U-boat and didn’t care a whit about the concentration camps, it would receive a similarly adoring reception here in the U.S. (At the time of writing, the film enjoys a 82 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has appeared on several best-of-year lists.) One would hope that critics who aren’t suffering from Japan’s culture of mass delusion about its war crimes would take into consideration the warped version of history Miyazaki has to accommodate and, to a large extent, perpetuates.

The Wind Rises is just one film, but it echoes an entire country’s obsession with misremembering a deeply painful and extraordinarily violent past. Japan’s wartime victimhood is a convenient lie its citizens have told themselves for decades. That the aging Miyazaki has misguidedly lent a patina of wistful beauty to that lie is a shame. The Wind Rises ends the illustrious career of a treasured visionary on a repellent, disgraceful note.

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See also:
Read Simon Abrams's review of The Wind Rises



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