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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1984) » User review

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Two-Disc

Blu-ray and Kids & Family movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki

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Have you a hugged a bug today?

  • Aug 3, 2011
Rating:
+4

  

Let me begin this review by saying I'm biased. Yes, you read correctly--biased, I say! I absolutely adore anything written, directed, and drawn by Hayao Miyazaki. Thus, it is very difficult to ever rate his material lower than a +3. He's a living legend, a genius, and a master storyteller. I respect and admire him for all the art he's brought into my life.

Now to continue with the review...it was a little difficult for me to watch Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It wasn't because it was a bad film-- there was just too much tension and drama for me to handle! At times, I felt like I was watching episodes from the television show 24. Nausicaa and her Valley of the Wind people faced situations that kept looking worse and more worse. I often wondered how she was going to save the day. It looked hopeless. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a beautiful story about a princess. She is not your traditional princess, though. Nausicaa communes with the lethal plants and giant insects (Ohmu) that live in the Toxic Jungles. The setting is very important to the story. The Earth is in ruins. Humanity is almost instinct. It has been one thousand years since the "Seven Days of Fire" that destroyed Earth's ecosystem, and humans still cannot learn to live in harmony with everything around them. First, there are the Toxic Jungles, called the Sea of Decay in the manga and subtitled version of the film. The humans are constantly trying to prevent it from spreading to the few points of civilization left, usually by burning the plants that produce toxic spores and killing the Ohmu. Second, the humans have to be careful what air they breathe because of the deadly spores from the Toxic Jungle plants. So, they almost always have to wear gas masks. Third, the humans are fighting among themselves for the last bits of resources available for survival. The main kingdoms introduced are Nausicaa's Valley of the Wind, the Kingdom of the Pejite, and the Kingdom of the Tolmekia. Lastly, there is Nausicaa, a young woman trying to understand the disharmony around her. For those who enjoy a good dystopia story, I highly recommend Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

What fascinates me about this film is Nausicaa's passivity. Nausicaa, played by voice actor Alison Lohman, will not kill, not even in the name of justice. She loves the Ohmu as much as her own people. She would rather sacrifice herself than condone violence. Contrasting this gentleness and desire to understand is the villain of our film-- Lady Kushana, warrior princess from the Kingdom of the Tolmekia, played by voice actor Uma Thurman. She is angry at the Toxic Jungle and the Ohmu and has a desire for power that Nausicaa and her people can't comprehend. She is treacherous, and it's frustrating for the viewer to watch her get away with so many evil plans as the heroine of the story remains true to her philosophy of life. 

In the English version, supporting characters included a wide array of big names from Hollywood:
 

  • Asbel, a prince from the Kingdom of Pejite, played by Shia LaBeouf
  • Lord Yupa, a great warrior and adviser of Nausicaa and her father, played by Patrick Stewart
  • Obaba, a wise woman of the Valley of the Wind, played by Tress MacNeille
  • Mito, a villager from the Valley of the Wind and a friend of Nausicaa's, played by Edward James Olmos
  • Mayor of Pejite, played by Star Wars legend Mark Hamill

This is only a small list of a well cast American dub. Of course, I always recommend viewing the original Japanese versions of films with English subtitles. However, when I saw the amazing cast Disney included for the dubbed version, how could I resist? Patrick Stewart was reason alone to watch! In the end, I really enjoyed all the voice actors that were chosen from narrator Tony Jay to Nausicaa herself.

The acting was great, but what always makes a Hayao Miyazaki film are the story and artwork, all which excelled in this film. I loved Miyazaki's vision of a destroyed Earth and the interesting takes on toxic plants and the "scary" Ohmu. One of my favorite things about this film is Miyazaki's ability to show the viewer wind. From the windmills in the Valley of the Wind to the warships of the Tolmekia to Nausicaa's ability to travel long distances by "windriding," flying an advanced jet assisted glider, wind comes alive. I haven't been moved like this by the image and idea of wind since the Korean film Windstruck

Some of my favorite scenes from the film include Nausicaa's gliding moments, when we are first introduced to the deadly spores as they fall around her like snow, and Nausicaa's memories from her childhood, along with the beautiful childhood singing. This was the most memorable music from the film, although there are some beautiful instrumental sequences. 

As already described, I was very emotionally invested in this story. I was constantly on the edge of my seat hoping that Nausicaa would somehow give the villains their reckoning. Of course, events never turned out as I hoped, and I'm actually glad of that fact. Nausicaa wouldn't have been the peaceful and selfless princess that she was if she had suddenly started kicking some human ass. Of course, there was an early fight scene that demonstrated how capable Nausicaa really was with a weapon. It was nice to know that she had physical strength and the wisdom and compassion to not rely on it. I haven't come across a lead heroine that I've enjoyed this much in a very long time. 

Overall, the English dubbed version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is appropriate for a general audience. There wasn't as much violence as I expected. The worst scene was when Nausicaa lets anger consume her. Otherwise, the only thing young children might be frightened of are the large insect Ohmus. Personally, I didn't find them scary, and I can't stand bugs! I didn't even find them gross, again, another attribute I assign to most bugs. Miyazaki humanized the Toxic Jungle and the Ohmus through Nausicaa's unique perspective of her world. It was an amazing concept, and teaches important lessons about life that any viewer, regardless of age, would benefit from:

 
  • The importance and strength imbued in practicing nonviolent means of protest.
  • The futility of violence and war.
  • It is greater to be selfless than selfish.
  • The ecological connections between all creatures, great and small.
  • The immense destruction that greed causes to the Earth.
  • The importance of building friendships with all types of peoples.
  • The value of forgiveness.
  • Life is sacred.
 

The best aspect about these themes are that they don't come off as trite life-lessons or cliches. The messages are intrinsically woven into the story and plot. They are slowly revealed as the anime progresses. In fact, many of these lessons didn't make themselves clear until I started replaying key scenes from the film in my mind. This is a movie that will stay with me, and I highly recommend it to all peoples, even if you are not a fan of anime. You will especially enjoy it if you are a Hayao Miyazaki fan like myself. If that's the case, though, I recommend seeing the original Japanese version first and then the American adaption. I'm glad that Jason got us a copy of the film, and I look forward to the time when we can watch it  again in Japanese. It's worth seeing multiple times in any language or format.

Have you a hugged a bug today? Have you a hugged a bug today? Have you a hugged a bug today? Have you a hugged a bug today? Have you a hugged a bug today? Have you a hugged a bug today?

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August 22, 2011
I so, so love all the life lessons that you pulled from this movie. I'll definitely have to catch it. It sounds like a really good one :)
September 17, 2011
I love films that have so many life lessons in them. They really make me think about the world around me. :)
 
August 04, 2011
Sounds like a parable to me, Adrianna! The world certainly needs to be reminded of the lessons about life as as usual, the ones most needed to be reminded will probably be out of its reach, *sigh....* Let's hope it's not too late as it is!

Aggression is never the way and as my parents love to say, it's much better to be able to give than to be given ;-) Keep on writing!!! :-)
August 04, 2011
Thanks for the read and visit, Sharrie! I agree too! Another aspect I loved about this film was hope. No matter how bad things looked, the people always hoped. It's a powerful motivator!

Thanks again! And I will keep on writing. :)
 
August 03, 2011
I like your rendition of the lessons about life.

o The importance and strength imbued in practicing nonviolent means of protest.

o The futility of violence and war.

o It is greater to be selfless than selfish.

o The ecological connections between all creatures, great and small.

o The immense destruction that greed causes to the Earth.

o The importance of building friendships with all types of peoples.

o The value of forgiveness.

o Life is scared.

Adrianna, I think you want to say that life is sacred . Was this a typo ?
Sincerely,

Joseph
August 03, 2011
Great catch, Joseph! Yes, it was a typo! I just corrected it now. I have an auto-correct spell check on my browser, but it didn't recognize the error since scared was spelled correctly! I must have missed it in my final read through.

And, I'm glad you like the layout of the life lessons. This is an anime I think you would enjoy even if you don't regularly watch anime. It's a very versatile and moving piece.
August 03, 2011
I concur.
 
August 03, 2011
This sounds like a charming story Adri--maybe one that could really move someone emotionally!! Great review!!
August 03, 2011
It really is, Brenda! I highly recommend you watch it. Have you seen any of Miyazaki's works? Some have played in theaters. I saw "Ponyo" and "Howl's Moving Castle" in theaters. Fun times!
August 04, 2011
No I haven't Adri--I'll have to keep an eye out!! Thanks again...
August 04, 2011
Ok, great! I hope you see some of his works in the near future. And no problem. I had fun writing this review. I was very passionate about it. :)
 
August 03, 2011
You are really a good writer.
August 03, 2011
Thanks so much, Israel! That is high praise coming from someone as talented a writer as you!
 
August 03, 2011
EXCELLENT review
August 03, 2011
Yay! So glad you liked it! It had been a while since I contributed anything to ASIANatomy, and I was definitely inspired by Nausicaa. :)
 
August 03, 2011
Ah I remember this movie. And yeah, that was me too - "Patrick Stewart? YAY." Japanese version first, of course, then move on to the English dub. I think this has always been my favorite Miyazaki movie and I've seen almost all of them now I think. Howl's Moving Castle comes in at a very close second (Calcifer is adorable). My younger sister loved Mononoke the best. Kind of ironic for me since I love wolves, haha. Great review of a great movie!
August 03, 2011
I know. He rocks! I love when he is in a film. :)

I couldn't agree more! We sometimes watch the English dub first purely because we are too lazy to read the subtitles. Right now, we are watching on a rather small television, so the subtitles would have been difficult. The English dub is usually a good choice when children are watching.

I don't know if I have a favorite Miyazaki film...so hard to choose! I know Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, and Spirited Away were my top choices before seeing this one. I liked that Nausicaa had a happy ending. I was devastated by the end of Mononoke. :( Ponyo was cute, but it was another film met more for kids.
 
August 03, 2011
whoa....wow....wow....oh.my.god. Adri, this is a fantastic review of one of Miyazaki's best works. I truly and really liked the way you took and fleshed out each aspect of the anime. I mean, not even me or anyone I know would've been able to do such a fine job underlying each theme, character and depth of the anime. "Nausicaa" does have strong similarities to another of Miyazaki's works "Princess Mononoke" and I do think that it may have also inspired "Avatar". Actually, this is your 4th awesome contribution to ASIANatomy! You are just magnificent! Oh, by the way, I will message you soon....I am trying to catch up with things and vacation time is coming soon....
August 03, 2011
I am so glad you liked it, William! Jason and I had been meaning to see this film, and I was very happy that we were finally able to watch it. I took a bit of time with the film analysis because I wanted to give it justice. I've seen Princess Mononoke, and I want to watch it again to review it. I would rate that one either a +4 or a +5. It's probably better than this one, but I like that this film is more "kid friendly." Every time I watch Princess Mononoke, I cry. I came close to tears with Nausicaa, but it helped that there was a happy ending. I think Princess Mononoke is the better film, but it's probably too bloody for young children, at least from what I remember. And, I wished the ending had been happier. It was probably more of a realistic view than this film. 

Only 4!?!? I need more reviews for here!

And, I bet you are right about the inspiration for Avatar

Hope you have time to catch up on everything before your vacation! I'm lurking nearby for any emails you send my way. :)
August 03, 2011
I will send you and email soon. Something is just bothering me and it is messing with the realignment of my chi. LOL! I guess that was too dramatic, what I am trying to say is that my brain is pre-occupied....I have too many things to take care of. I guess I should email you.
August 03, 2011
Ok, no rush on the email. I'm just checking in for a little bit tonight. J has a really important interview tomorrow that decides whether he gets a supervisor job in Ventura. Please keep us in your thoughts and/or prayers!!

What's been bothering you? Shoot me a message-- we'll hash it out and get your chi aligned again! I can understand what you mean about having a brain that's preoccupied. I know mine is...We need to talk via email or the phone. I won't be back in town for a phone conversation until next week really. We could probably chat a little bit tomorrow while Jason is at his interview. I was planning to go to the library, but I can skip it in lieu of us chatting for a bit.
August 03, 2011
I do always remember to pray for my friends and yes, I am sure you guys will get settled in no time. The right job will be there for J.

I dunno....things are going real great but there is just something missing. I can write and everything, but my heart isn't in it for some reason, so my brain doesn't work properly to express myself. We may have to talk since I am bad in expressing what I feel by writing. Send me a text when you are available...
August 03, 2011
I am so glad, William. And thanks!! I hope so too!

I understand what you mean too. I've been having the same feelings in regards to my own writing lately. I'll shoot you a text tomorrow. I might have some time around 2pm or 2:30pm to talk if you are free. It would be on my cell.
 
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Adrianna Simone ()
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Wiki

Hayao Miyazaki gained widespread attention in Japan for his complex ecological manga series,Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind(1982), which he adapted for the screen two years later. One thousand years after a war devastated much of the Earth, humanity clings to existence at the fringes of a vast, polluted forest inhabited by monstrous insects. Only Nausicaä, the princess of the tiny realm of the Valley of the Wind, grasps the environmental significance of the forest. She sees beyond petty wars and national rivalries to the only viable future for the planet. InNausicaä, Miyazaki began to explore elements he would develop more fully in his later films: daring, compassionate heroines; exciting flying sequences; colorful side characters; strong interpersonal relationships; and a call for an ecologically sustainable way of life. Nausicaä prefigures Sheeta inCastle in the Skyand Chihiro inSpirited Away, just as the rough and ready Asbel anticipates Pazu inCastle in the Skyand Ashitaka inPrincess Mononoke. For years,Nausicaäwas available in the United States only as the badly re-editedWarriors of the Wind. The new English dub from Disney presents the film in its entirety, with strong vocal performances by Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Alison Lohman, and Edward James Olmos. (Rated PG: violence, frightening imagery)--Charles Solomon
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Details

Director: Hayao Miyazaki
DVD Release Date: March 8, 2011
Runtime: 118 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
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