Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika) 1984
Not precisely a Ghibli film, since the success of Nausicaa was part of what enabled Studio Ghibli to be formed, but basically so – and always sold as part of the Ghibli collection.
Possibly my favourite Miyazaki film and looking back it’s easy to see the roots of what might now be called a classic mix of Miyazaki’s environmentalism, fantasy and use of a female lead whose ability to solve conflict with kindness is a key part of both plot and charactarisation.
Here’s something of a blurb, not a great or official one by any means:
Threatened by spreading toxic jungles, Nausicaa’s people rely on their own vigilance and the wind to protect their homes and people. When a ship carrying an ominous secret crashes in their valley, warring nations converge on the Valley of the Wind and it’s up to Nausicaa to save her people.
Part of why this film is so effective for me, is because the world building is detailed – you can feel that there’s so much more beneath the surface. The detail of the world, it’s interconnected environment and tensions, the prejudice of its peoples, it’s just as realistic as it is fantastical. (This is in part due to it’s basis in a multi-volume manga written by Miyazaki.)
The insects especially, are impressively drawn and varied but also complex creatures – not in the least being the almost majestic Ohmu.
Again there’s a beautiful soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi, this time with a electronic feel typical of the 80s, though the opening piece here is still quite orchestral. Below is a live performance for the 25 Anniversary, you can see Joe on the piano.
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
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