Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984) Review

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Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984)
Kaze no Tani no Naushika
Japanese: 風の谷のナウシカ

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 227 as of 01/01/2013

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Sumi Shimamoto
Gorō Naya
Yōji Matsuda
Yoshiko Sakakibara
Iemasa Kayumi

(English Dub Voice Cast: Alison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Chris Sarandon, Edward James Olmos, Mark Hamill)

Running time: 117 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia):
The film tells the story of Nausicaä, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind who gets involved in a struggle with Tolmekia, a kingdom that tries to use an ancient weapon to eradicate a jungle of mutant giant insects. Nausicaä must stop the Tolmekians from enraging these creatures.

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Before I Start The Review:

As this is my first review for my Studio Ghibli Project (perhaps I should start calling it a project as I think it’ll carry on for longer than a month), I figured I’d talk a tiny bit about my Studio Ghibli experience. Also, as many Ghibli films are in the IMDB Top 250, a lot of these reviews will also be a part of my IMDB Top 250 Project so I’ll mention it if they’re in the Top 250. Nausicaä was at 227 when I started the IMDB thing and is currently at 198 so I’m happy to see that it’s moved up the list quite a bit.

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Here’s my Studio Ghibli experience: The first film I saw was Spirited Away in 2001. It’s a great movie but I don’t think it was the best one to start on as it’s definitely one of the more “strange” Ghiblis. A few years ago I saw My Neighbor Totoro and, of course, loved it. Who doesn’t? But it wasn’t until I watched Princess Mononoke that I really started buying into the whole Studio Ghibli thing and I’ve been working my way through them ever since. Aside from Totoro (which I’ve now seen many times) and Kiki’s Delivery Service (where I’ve seen the subtitled & the dubbed version) and Spirited Away, I’ve only watched the other Ghibli films I’ve seen one time each. I know there are some huge Ghibli fans out there and I’m FAR from being any kind of expert on them as I’m still very new to them. All I really know is that I’ve enjoyed them immensely and I’m very glad to have finally decided to explore them. I want to have the time to watch them all again as I know they’re the types of movies that will only go up in my estimation the more I see them, just as My Neighbor Totoro did. And the one I want to re-watch the most is one that I saw very recently and also one that felt very different from the other Ghibli stuff I’ve seen: Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind.

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My Opinion On Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

Version watched: In Japanese with English subtitles

I’m never going to be able to do this movie justice with my lack of any true writing skills. Due to this film’s success, Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata were able to start up Studio Ghibli so, although this one isn’t “officially” a Ghibli, it’s considered to be the first one anyway.

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It’s very unlike any of the other Ghibli movies I’ve seen so far. It’s based on Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, which he still continued for a while after the release of the film. This movie is kind of like a weird mash-up of Heavy Metal, Dune, and the “sweeter” Ghibli stuff that came later. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future, which is always a favorite genre for me (what’s wrong with me?!). The title character, Nausicaä, is the princess of The Valley Of The Wind. This post-apocalyptic world is covered by a toxic jungle and large mutant insects. Nausicaä is happiest when exploring the mysteries of the toxic jungle and its insects while flying on her glider. She’s able to communicate with the insects and wishes to find a way for the remaining humans to live peacefully in this toxic land.

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I don’t know what it is but this movie just really worked for me on a level that not all the Ghibli films have. I think it’s just very much my type of thing even more than the kid-friendly Ghibli films such as Kiki’s Delivery Service or the more strange ones such as Spirited Away. The environmental & anti-war themes in this are very obvious and, as with a lot of Ghibli films, there’s a very strong female lead which is something I always like in a movie. So, Nausicaä is an excellent role model and the themes are ones that are good to teach kids. However, this is NOT a child-friendly movie. As with all kids, some are more mature than others and it’s down to parents to judge if their kids can handle a movie or not. It’s definitely not one for the very young due to some violence but also the fact that the story is quite complex and epic in scope so they wouldn’t understand or appreciate it anyway. However, I think it’s a great one for older kids (11? 12?) and one that most adults (like me!) would love as well if it’s their type of thing. This is really pretty much a tie for my number one favorite along with My Neighbor Totoro but I just have so much affection for the character of Totoro that I had to put that at number one. However, THIS movie is more my type of film overall.

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Summary:

Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind is quite different from the other Studio Ghibli films most of you will have watched but I highly recommend it. I loved the excellent strong female lead and the post-apocalyptic world they created for this film. I loved the different sort of animation style of the insects compared to the human characters which have more of the look of all the later Ghibli films. Oh, and I loved the score which I completely forgot to mention! I thought it so perfectly set the right mood for the film and Nausicaä’s theme (not sure – I think it’s Nausicaä – Requiem? – The la la la la song!) was quite haunting & stuck in my head for days. Oh, I also enjoyed the supporting characters such as Lord Yupa and the totally Pokémon “pet” of Nausicaä’s. (I know nothing whatsoever about Pokémon and if it was influenced by Nausicaä or if it’s something that existed before the movie – just saying they look alike!). Oh, and I don’t know if I should point this out or if I’ll look totally stupid, but… I was a little concerned at first that Nausicaä was wearing no pants. She wears these form-fitting trousers that are so close to her skin color and she bends over her glider all the time and, really, I don’t know why they didn’t just make her pants a different color! I’ve Googled this as I felt stupid but see that I’m indeed not the only one who thought she was pretty much naked from the waist down for half the film. Now that I’ve made myself sound like an idiot, I can inform you all that she IS wearing trousers so that you don’t end up feeling as stupid as I did when you watch it.

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Either way, pants or no pants, this movie is an epic adventure that I really wasn’t expecting from a Studio Ghibli film. I’m not sure why it’s not mentioned quite as much as some of the others. I thought it was amazing.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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Big Fish (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe has already reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s hear her thoughts on Big Fish, IMDB rank 242 out of 250.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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Here is another film I undertook to see for Table9Mutant and her IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having a blast with this as I have been given the opportunity to go back and revisit some great  movies again, and there were quite a few that I had been meaning to get to again and look into. Without further ado, let me commence with sharing my feelings on Big Fish.

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“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.” – Will Bloom

The story revolves around a dying father and his son, who is trying to learn more about his dad by piecing together the stories he has gathered over the years. The son winds up re-creating his father’s elusive life in a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts he knows. Through these tales, the son begins to understand his father’s great feats and his failings. (IMDB)

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“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true.” – Edward Bloom

An 8/10 for Big Fish. This is a Tim Burton film, and certainly one of his finest films. While you can see it is a Burton flick due to the fantastical presentation of things, the story reels you in more effectively than many he has told recently, resonating with you when all is said and done. Big Fish boasts a phenomenal cast and they all bring the goods to the table effortlessly. Helena Bonham Carter was, as always, incredibly impressive. There was plenty of humour to go around in this movie without it getting old or too extremely cheesy or feeling too forced, but not enough for it to take front and centre stage either. Jessica Lange was perfectly cast to play Sandra K Bloom, she was beautiful, sweet, caring and a wonderful mother and loyal wife. Alison Lohman could conceivably have been her when she was younger, and I liked that you could see that Lange had grown from the woman that Lohman was. Ewan McGregor was fantastic to watch as the young Edward Bloom, and wove an impressive story, undertaking to show you something whimsical if only you would accompany him on his journey. Billy Crudup played the embittered and frustrated son that still loves his father though he does not like him very much. He played that well and was convincing. At times I could understand his frustration, and then at other times I thought it was excessive. The costume design was just amazing in here, telling a story completely on its own. I like how the movie explored reconciliation (without it being some serious overkill crap) and how people identify things differently, and the truth is simply how something is perceived.

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“I don’t think I’ll ever dry out.” – Sandra Templeton

There were so many scenes that were just put together so well and were just beautiful. I loved the scene where the young Edward Bloom finally sets eyes on a young Sandra Templeton and instantly falls in love. Time stops and it just lingers there, and he walks through it. Everything is frozen around him, the popcorn hangs in the air and gets brushed aside, he steps through hoops to get to her, the whole time completely enthralled, and the next thing you know time catches up, double time. It was just such an arrestingly beautiful scene and demands your attention, that you watch it and see how it all comes together. There are a few of these. This is also a beautiful story of true love and how it can last, how sometimes things just are perfect in life, and that is just that.  The score worked for this movie, too, but I must say is rather forgettable when all is said and done at the end of the day. Typical Danny Elfman/Tim Burton collaboration, and that is by no which means said in a demeaning manner. Big Fish is inspiring, though at times it gets annoying to watch father and son arguing all the time. Albert Finney was great to play the old man that Edward Bloom became. It was a lovely journey to follow through, to see what the son thought of his father and his stories, to see how he desperately just wanted the truth and was willing to dig for it, and how his father was just a passionate storyteller who loved his son, no matter what his son thought of him.

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“Everybody’s there, and I mean everybody. And the strange thing is, there’s not a sad face to be found, everyone’s just so happy to see you.” – Will Bloom

I must say that the present day storytelling was nice in the movie, but I was much more excited for and taken by the wonderful past experiences that Edward had to tell, the outline of his youth, the things that he had done, the places he had gone, the people he had met. They were insanely interesting and even though the tales are tall and a little ludicrous, when they are told the way they were laid out here, one is almost willing to forget that the movie is supposed to be deeply steeped in realism, and go out on a whim that Edward had the magical experiences that he proclaimed to. However, when the present rolls around again and you see it all as it is, that is when you know that he cannot seriously be telling the truth, everything is so plain and boring outside of his mind. Big Fish is a beautiful and stunning story, with an enchanting fairy tale element to it that works on many levels; this movie is definitely worth checking out if you have not done so already!