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"Absolutely, BUY THIS FILM. IT IS ONE OF THE BEST FILMS OF ANY TYPE EVER MADE.
Disney, after originally having scheduled the release of this masterpiece for August 31, having moved it to Feb. 22, and having taken it off the release list, has now reinstated its release on Feb. 22. It will be released with Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns; originally, it was to be released with My Neighbor Totoro, but The Cat has been substituted. This is mistifying, because Cat is a sequel to Whisper from the Heart, a sweet and endearing film that has never been released in the U.S.; a studio does not usually release the sequel first. What is Disney thinking, and what is to be done with Totoro?
That said, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind was Miyazaki's first full-length original film (I don't count the Lupin films because they're part of someone else's work), and it is utterly superb. It is adapted from the epic manga series that he created in between projects while working for other directors, and only covers about 30% of the enormous story. It has a heavy ecological message, and shows Miyazaki's trademark fascination with flight and unusual animals. The story is deep, rich, emotional, and satisfying. The soundtrack, Jo Hisashi's first for Miyazaki, is one of his best; it is not extremely varied, but it is rich and emotional.
A version of this film was introduced as Warriors of the Wind in the late 1980's in the U.S. While the dub was excellent, twenty minutes of cuts made in the film infuriated Miyazaki to the point where he refused to allow any more U.S. sales of his films until Disney agreed to release the films uncut and to do their prodigious best with the vocal talents for the dubs. I still do not feel that their choice of voice actors has always been the best; some of the performances in Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke were at best lackluster, but there's always the subtitles and original Japanese soundtrack for purists who aren't happy with the results.
This film is an absolute must-have for any animation fan. Even being Miyazaki's first film, it is a detailed, mature work far beyond the scope of most animation directors and storytellers. I just hope that Amazon will release this film in a 3-pack with Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns."
The Greatest Animated Film of All Time
Strategos | In Space above Planet Earth | 05/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have been an animation fan all of my life. I've seen almost every Disney animated flick countless times. I've studied the work of Chuck Jones and marveled at the best of Don Bluth.
I have been a fan of Japanese animation in partuclar for years. I have seen countless animated films and studied them in depth. I own almost every Studio Ghibli film ever made (including Whisper of the Heart, the Cat Returns, Castle in the Sky, and Castle of Cagliostro). I am here to tell you that Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is without a doubt the greatest animated film I have ever seen in my life...
First of all, this is the first film that the animation genius Miyazaki ever attempted through his own studio. It is also a greatly condensed story, being adapted from a manga that it's creator wrote which was quite lengthly. That being said, this movie is PERFECT.
The animation may be old, but it rivals, and sometiems even demolishes, animation released in the theaters today. The action sequences (and particularly the flight sequences) are truly amazing to behold. The sound effects are marvelous. The music is mind-blowing. The pacing is perfect, the voice-acting beyond perfect. The quality of the artwork continues to astound. But that's not why this is the greatest animated film ever.
At it's heart this is s complex story of man vs. nature and man vs. man. How many times have we been over the topic of how man's meddling is threatening to destroy the world, and how perhaps one day the world will fight back? In the world created in this film, the world has been destroyed by what can only be desribed as an apocalypse (of man's doing). In response, plants and giant bugs are taking over the whole world and inhabiting vast patches fo wasteland. Various countries are fighting endless wars with each other in a quest to survive. A new danger arises though, as one of the ancient weapons which destroyed the world is found. The nations all claim they want to use it to destroy the bugs that would destroy humanity (not to destroy each other, as each nation claims it's rivals would).
Toss into this mix an oasis from the harshness of the desert wastelands where everyone lives in peace and harmony...and a young girl may hold the secret to ending the eternal battle between man and nature.
The story in Nausicaa is incredibly stong, and the plot is quite deep. What really holds this movie together though, is Nausicaa herself. This young girl is the single greatest anime character ever to grace film. The key lies in something Miyazaki himself once said. A man who is the protagonist would destroy his enemies and defeat them. But the real world is not like that. In the real world, empathy and understanding is the only thing that can save us. And so rather than fight everyone to the death, Nausicaa takes on the far more dangerous goal of making everyone stop fighting before they annihilate everything worth saving. The Japanese are very in touch with the theme of the futility of war (having experienced its effects first-hand), and this film is a perfect example of the pinnacle of where that philosophy can take us.
Miyazaki has changed in his views over time, and this film is not what he considers his best work. I find this to be the ultimate irony. The man doesn't even realize the magnitude of what he has created...
I said it before and I'll say it again. This is the greatest animated film of all time. It covers the full range of emotion, from friendship and understanding to death and destruction and the chance of forgiveness and renewal. I can often tell whether I will enjoy a movie by it's beginning. This movie has the best beginning of any movie I have ever seen. I always know if I will continue to love a movie when it ends, and this movie has the best ending of any movie I have ever seen..."
We desperately need a new English version of this great film
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The five star rating is not for the English language version of this film, but for the original though subtitled Japanese version. My hope is that with the Oscar that SPIRITED AWAY won, following the enormous success of PRINCESS MONONOKE, Disney will bring out a new and unbutchered version of this great, great Miyazaki classic.
Hayao Miyazaki may finally be on the verge of being commonly recognized in the United States as the world's greatest animator. For years I have been hawking his genius to friends and acquaintances, few of whom recognized his name. Several knew MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO or KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE, but were unaware that they were by the same person. But with the growing realization in America that all these great, great films, far surpassing the entire output of Disney in quality and originality, are all by the same creative genius, Miyazaki is finally getting the recognition that he truly deserves.
NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, to give WARRIORS OF THE WIND its proper title, is one of Miyazaki's greatest films, and one that shows most clearly his preoccupation with ecological concerns (the butchered American version eliminates much of this). As in all of his films, the quality of the animation is scarcely to be believed. The only non-Miyazaki film that renders trees and forests as well is the opening sequences of BAMBI. And as in most of his films, Miyazaki, unlike the Disney habit of almost always updating some classic tale, creates a completely original and previously untold story. He is not merely a cartoonish: he is an original storyteller.
Even in its heavily edited American form, WARRIORS OF THE WIND retains a degree of the power of NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND. When my daughter was in kindergarten, at a time when she was acutely aware of a paucity of strong female role models, she would watch this film over and over. Two movies seems to provide her with better female role models than any others, this film and THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN. Many other movies delighted her, but these two made her feel that the world was a place for girls who with things they wanted to accomplish as well, that women, and not only men and boys, could be heroes as well.
With such Miyazaki films as CASTLE IN THE SKY and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE getting a first rate release on DVD in the US, one can hope that NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND wouldn't be far behind. The big difference between those films and the latter is that they were not especially altered when first produced in English version, while NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND was dramatically altered. For a new dubbed version, Disney will need to first restore all of the cut scenes from the American original, and then produce a new soundtrack. In other words, bringing NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND to the American market anew will require more work than on any of Miyazaki's other films. But the work will definitely need to be justified by the produce, which is one of Miyazaki's finest films. I wonder if before bringing it out on DVD, they might not bring a newly reproduced film to theaters first. Whatever their decision, there does seem to be significant reason for optimism that we might finally get the opportunity to hear and see this film in the way that Miyazaki wanted us to see it.
FEBRUARY 2005 addition: We got it! In the ongoing rerelease of all of Miyazaki's films on DVD, this one has been fully restored and redubbed. I just ordered my copy!"
The Best of the Best
Greyward | Guaynabo, PR USA | 07/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my favorite Miyazaki movie; I like it better than Laputa (Castle in the Sky), Spirited Away, or even Mononoke. As amazingly imaginative and touching as those movies are, I found Nausicaa to be even moreso. It just moved me in a way that is hard to describe. Visualy, the film is just plain beautiful. Even by today's standards. The music, as someone else stated, is haunting. Miyazaki's wonderful inventiveness is at its greatest here; the unusual post-apocaliptic world the film is set in is alive and unique.
The great tragedy is that I've only been able to watch this movie as a poor copy-of-a-copy fansubed bootleg. It simply has not been available in the States in any other form. Hopefuly we'll soon see what we were missing; props to those responsible for finaly getting this movie released here.
If you've liked any of Miyazaki's other films, or if you are an anime fan in general, check this movie out."
Lush, Moving, Fantastical: Miyazaki All the Way
Debbie Lee Wesselmann | the Lehigh Valley, PA | 12/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This classic anime by Hayao Miyazaki pits a spunky, loving princess against those who misunderstand the precarious balance of nature in their diseased environment. Like most Miyazaki heroines, Princess Nausicaa is an independent girl, full of wisdom despite her young age, and one who approaches life with both awe and determination. When well-meaning but ignorant invaders from another land threaten to destroy the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaa must rely on her special understanding of nature to save them all.
Some of the themes and undertones of later Miyazaki works can be seen in this earlier film. In particular, the environmental interdependence of man and his environment that later defines "Princess Mononoke" begins in "Nausicaa." The "ohmu," giant armored bugs who attack when one of their own is injured, have the mysterious inner lives that many of the fantastical spirits/gods possess in "Spirited Away." His fascination with wind and flight , lush and complex scenery, and the dynamic "acting" of his characters mark "Nausicaa" as an archetypal Miyazaki work.
Although I watched this anime in the original language with subtitles, Disney has assembled a remarkable cast of voices: Uma Thurman, Chris Sarandon, Patrick Stewart, Edward James Olmos, Alison Lohman, and Mark Hamill. (The extras in the DVD contain interviews with these English-speaking actors about their dubbing experiences.) I watched bits with these voices, and they are actually quite good in that they capture the emotional force and rhythms (to a degree) of the original. For those who get too distracted by reading subtitles , the high-quality dubbing should be appreciated. Still, I am a purist, much preferring the original language.
Because of its larger issues, Miyazaki's animation appeals to adults perhaps more than to children. His intense battles and ominous creatures will probably frighten younger kids, hence the PG rating. Highly recommended."