Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Alison Lohman as Nausicaa
Patrick Stewart as Lord Yupa
Uma Thurman as Kushana
Shia LaBeouf as Asbel
Emily Bauer as Princess Lastelle
Cam Clarke as Prince Milo
Mark Hamill as Mayor Of Pejite
Chris Sarandon as Kurotawa
Edward James Olmos

Special Features:
Original Japanese 117 minute version in both Japanese language and new English soundtrack

Behind the scenes of the English voice recording

Complete storyboards

“Birth of Studio Ghibli” featurette

Japanese trailers

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
Japanese Language
Running Time: 117 Minutes

Synopsis:
This film was originally released in Japan by Hayao Miyazaki in 1984 and it was his first directorial job. It was released in the US as “Warriors of the Wind” in 1986 and was re-dubbed by Disney in 2003. The following is from the DVD cover:

“From one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the history of animation and the creator of the Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away (Best Animated Featured Film, 2002) comes Hayao Miyazaki’s epic masterpiece Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. A thousand years after a global war, a seaside kingdom known as the Valley Of The Wind remains one of only a few areas still populated. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaä, the people of the Valley are engaged in a constant struggle with powerful insects called ohmu, who guard a poisonous jungle that is spreading across the Earth. Nausicaä and her brave companions, together with the people of the Valley, strive to restore the bond between humanity and the Earth. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. And this spectacular 2-disc set features exotic settings, impactful music, and a timeless story about courage and compassion in the face of danger.”

Rated PG for violence

The Movie:
Until I popped this DVD in the player and started watching it, I had completely forgotten that I had seen this film back in the 1980′s under the title “Warriors of the Wind”. I think that really says something about the film when you don’t see it for 20 years, then immediately recognize it as soon as it starts playing again. When Nausicaa, her glider, and the giant bug appeared on the screen, I instantly recalled the vivid imagery.

This film marked Hayao Miyazaki’s directorial debut and I have to say it may be my favorite of his films. It features amazing animation, stunning design, a colorful cast of characters, and a good plot. Being a Star Wars fan, this film really appealed to me. It features bizarre creatures, cool ships, amazing fights, and a lot of action. The story also features the “hero’s journey” which is key to the Star Wars saga. It’s amazing that this came out in 1984 because it seems so far ahead of its time. It’s arguably better designed than Star Wars because it was only constrained by the imaginations of the animators, not by an effects budget.

My favorite scenes in the film were the action sequences and there were plenty. It opens with a great chase between a bug and a man fleeing on a bird of some sort. Later on there’s a spectacular air battle that eventually leads down into the “toxic jungle”, a truly imaginative environment. The big finale features a battle between a horrific melting giant and thousands upon thousands of the bugs (in a scene reminiscent of Dune). If you like sci-fi or action movies, this will satisfy you.

The animation is just stunning. Miyazaki’s films are always great at capturing a sense of speed or flight and this is no exception. There are a number of dogfights and Nausicaa herself flies around on a glider. The backgrounds are also stunning, especially in the “toxic jungle”. There are all sorts of bizarre animal life and beautiful, huge plants. It’s just hard to put into words how beautiful and alien everything is.

Disney has taken the lead on redubbing these films and re-releasing them to the American public. I have to say that I like it and it helps the movie to some degree to have recognizable voices with the characters. It helps you instantly figure out what their personalities are supposed to be like. Patrick Stewart plays the wise and valiant swordsman Lord Yupa. Uma Thurman plays Kushana, a little darker character than her “Bride” persona from Kill Bill. Shia LaBeouf is appropriately cocky and energetic as Asbel. And as a Star Wars fan I was glad to see a cameo by Mark Hamill as Mayor Of Pejite. Though I had never heard of Alison Lohman before seeing this movie, I thought she was good as Nausicaa. She brought a lot of life to the spunky young princess.

If you like animation or sci-fi, then you’ll definitely want to check out Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It’s a beautiful and imaginative film that is not only entertaining but a landmark in animation. It’s also a fun movie for both kids and adults. I watched it with my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son and we were all entranced.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD:

Behind the scenes of the English voice recording – This is a fun 10-minute feature showing interviews with the entire American voice cast. You also see them recording dialogue in a sound booth. It’s kind of refreshing to see these actors enthusiastically talk about the film and their characters. It’s obvious they have a lot of respect for the movie and Miyazaki.

Complete storyboards – For some reason they have included the ENTIRE film in storyboard format. You can watch it all the with redub audio. It’s fun to watch for a few scenes, but I can’t see anyone beyond animation enthusiasts watching the whole movie this way.

“Birth of Studio Ghibli” featurette – This is a 30 minute documentary from Japanese TV on the history of Studio Ghibli. They talk about how the original guys got together, how they made Nausicaa a comic first just so a movie would get greenlighted, and more. It’s a very interesting look at the genesis of the studio.

Japanese trailers – I typically don’t like to watch trailers, but these Japanese ones are so bizarre that they are definitely worth checking out.

The Bottom Line:
If you like Star Wars, Dune, or Lord of the Rings, then you’ll most likely enjoy “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”. It’s a fun movie for both kids and adults.

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