in sydney at the moment, there is a showcase of hayao miyazuki films. miyazaki is the guy behind spirited away, which is a film i liked, but thought ended right as it got going, and was more of a collection of parts than a whole, single film.
nausicaa of the valley of the wind is, however, a different, and more complete film. at least that's what i feel. it's set in a future ravaged by pollution, where there is a toxic jungle, an acid lake, and the sea of decay, all of which result in an environment filled with deadly gas and huge insects that turn violent the moment something disturbs them. for those of you who have seen it, the valley of the wind does explore similar themes that miyazuki would later return to in the film princess mononoke.
the film focus' on princess nausicaa, who lives in the valley of the wind (shocking, isn't it?), and which is surrounded by the toxic forests and spores that cling to trees and, when releasing their pollen, fill the air with poison. nausicaa is, from what i'm beginning to understand as i watch more of his films, the classic miyazuki heroine: curious, optimistic, generous and, inevitably, against violence. in addition, nausicaa is the kind of girl who charms giant ravaging insects, and flies on her glider like a bird, in some truly lovely scenes.
the film has, running beneath it, the concerns of industry and nature, which are explored when armies from other tribes appear. the thematic debate of the film is not a very even handed one, or even one with depth--technology brings ill in it's giant grey machines that burn and explode and shatter the ground. but while this is not a subtle thing, it's also not one that runs against the nature of the world nausicaa inhabits, so it's lack of subtly and debate is lessened, to the point where you can ignore it, should you desire.
nausicaa of the valley of the wind's success, however, is in its fully realised, beautifully animated world. it's impossible not to get caught up in the giant ohm bodies, or in the trees that sprout through the sea of decay, a dark, ugly colour, and which hide a soft blue world beneath; impossible not to enjoy the valley of the wind, with its huge windmills turning constantly, and the desert that borders it, or the remains of the space cruiser that lies at the lake of acid.
totally worth seeing, if you've got the time.