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2017-11-02

Photos: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

Photos: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

Photos: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

Photos: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

Photos: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind

Here are some excellent screenshots from the Blu-Ray release of Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. As is the case with nearly all animation, the BD format is a dramatic improvement over the older DVD format. Colors are sharp and vivid, picture is free of pixelation and compression artifacts, and audio is perfectly lossless, rich and booming. Years ago, I remember finding an ancient VHS rip that was worn down to the bones. The colors were washed out (leaving many to speculate Nausicaa wasn't wearing pants), and the screen was so dark you could barely make out anything. It was still a mesmerizing and mind-blowing trip.

I've argued for many years that Nausicaa was the movie that saved Hayao Miyazaki's career. Its success, both commercially and creatively, led to the founding of Studio Ghibli and three decades of worldwide acclaim. It's hard for today's younger fans to imagine just how hard the director struggled in the years directly preceding this film. The period of 1978-1983 was especially difficult for Miyazaki, who struggled with mainstream success in Japan, even while creating such masterworks as Future Boy Conan, The Castle of Cagliostro and Sherlock Hound. It's baffling that these titles weren't hits at the time.

Nausicaa was the great vindication, the overwhelming proof of Miyazaki's talents as a director, animator and storyteller. He no longer had to rely on the memories of Toei Dogs or Heidi. He no longer had to be thought of as "Paku-san's Junior Partner." He was a star in his own right.

This is a great movie, dynamic and exciting, filled with complex ideas and complicated characters. Its tone is deadly serious, aside from a few gags scattered here and there. You can see the obvious parallels to Horus, Prince of the Sun and Conan, but there is a new maturity on display. Here is a movie with ideas and questions that wisely avoids easy answers. Indeed, Nausicaa seems determined to leave us with questions. It makes sense, given this was still an ongoing manga comic serial at the time. Even Miyazaki didn't know where he was going. But he was definitely going places, as we know today.

1 comment:

nitrateglow said...

Nausicaa often gets written off as Princess Mononoke's lesser, preachier spiritual predecessor, at least in some of the circles I've encountered. I think that discounts many of the film's complexities, such as Nausicaa's own rage or the lack of resolution. It's a gentler film than Mononoke, but no less powerful.

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