Posters - Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

This is a rather interesting pre-release poster for Miyazaki's 1984 Nausicaa film. I'm a bit curious about this one, actually. If you're a careful observer, you'll note that this poster is not based on the movie, but the ongoing graphic novel that was appearing in the monthly pages of Animage.

The text near the top clearly shows that this is a promotional poster for the movie, not the manga. And yet we can note all the differences made to some of the characters in the final film. I'm sure much of this revolves around Miyazaki's desire for Nausicaa to be a self-contained movie, and not the beginning of a movie franchise. He was notoriously reluctant to bring his manga to film in the first place; it was only after much needling from Toshio Suzuki and Tokuma Shoten that the film director finally relented.

The other key insight is that, due to the way Miyazaki creates his work, Nausicaa the manga was nowhere near being completed. By the time he took his first sabbatical to work on the film, his story had just begun to branch out, becoming steadily more complex and complicated. He had a vague sense of where he wanted to go and some key elements near the end - the revival of an ancient "God Warrior" was already conceived, and would go through numerous revisions before the character Ohma is finally introduced a decade later.

All of this speaks to the challenges of bringing Nausicaa to the big screen. What are the overarching themes? What will be the peaks and valleys of a three-act script? What should the climax be? And how should it end? By this point in his life, Hayao Miyazaki had adopted a far more complex and nuanced worldview. His youthful idealism was fading in the face of midlife realism and a growing sense of pessimism for humanity.

The brilliance of the Nausicaa film is how it captures this uncertainty. It is a movie that raises many questions, but offers no real answers. Smart minds will come away debating the issues and choices by the characters. This is no simple melodrama with a preachy kumbaya message. It is a story awash in shades of grey. This uncertainty gives the movie an open-ended quality, and this is where its greatness lies. Nausicaa is the true heir to Horus, Prince of the Sun, and it may very well be Miyazaki's finest directoral work.

The seeds of Miyazaki's world-weary and darker worldview were sown in Future Boy Conan and Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro. In Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, they would fully bloom, and the great animation director would enter a new phase of his career. And his pessimism would only grow over time. By the time the Nausicaa manga was finally completed in 1994, he set to work on Mononoke, where the idealism of his past was left broken, beaten, and scarred.

Anyway, this is a terrific poster. The composition is tight, and the colors perfectly match the rough pen strokes. It's a wonderfully dark, saturated look, just like the mood of the film itself.


Brandon Brown said...

Do you know if this piece was created in order to market the film, of if it was a piece of stock art Miyazaki had lying around?

I really appreciate this retrospective of Ghibli posters. I wish that someday I could have one on my wall!

asuka said...

"raises many questions, but offers no real answers..."
true, but truer still if miyazaki could only go back and take back that final shot of the film. i bet he wishes he could...

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Ah, but if every artist could take back their final brush stroke, their final paragraph, their final scene, nothing of value would ever be created.

That way lies madness. And endless Star Wars revisions.

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