Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.
This originally came out in 1984, in Japan. Disney dubbed an American release of the film in 2005, and it was reissued by GKIDS in 2017. I didn't see it until 2021, but it's something I had been looking forward to watching for many years. While I enjoyed it to a fair degree, I think "admired" is a better word for how I felt about it. (It's getting harder for me to truly enjoy anything, these days.) I certainly think it has some very interesting ideas, and Nausicaä herself is a great character. And I appreciate the film because it led to the founding of Studio Ghibli, and I wouldn't want to live in a world without Ghibli.
Well, a lot happens in the movie, but I'll try to make my summary of the plot as succinct as possible, and leave out tons of details. It's set a thousand years after a war that destroyed civilization and created a toxic jungle that made the land virtually uninhabitable. Still, there are scattered villages or kingdoms or whatever, and this movie focuses on one called the Valley of the Wind, where the winds keep the toxic spores away. (Outside the village, people need to wear masks to filter out the spores. So watching it in 2021 was a bit weird at first, but I soon got used to it and didn't really think about our current pandemic for long.) Oh, and there are lots of giant insects that live in the jungle, and are very dangerous. The largest of them are called Ohmu, and the film begins with Princess Nausicaä (voiced in the English dub by Alison Lohman) exploring the jungle and finding a shell that had been shed by one of them. Soon after that, she encounters an old friend and great swordsman named Lord Yupa (Patrick Stewart) being chased by an Ohmu as he walks through the desert toward the Valley of the Wind, and she flies by on her glider to redirect the Ohmu away from him.
Not long after that, a giant airship from the kingdom of Tolmekia crashes in the Valley. And it had been carrying a "Giant Warrior," which were creatures that had burned the world 1000 years ago. It was thought that they had all turned to stone after the war, but this one seems to be alive, though its body needs a great deal of regenerating, which it spends most of the film doing before it can be used for battle. Soon after the crash, more Tolmekian airships arrive, commanded by Princess Kushana (Uma Thurman). Their soldiers quickly take control of the Valley, after killing Nausicaä's father, the king. They then send a few of their airships back toward Tolmekia with Nausicaä and a few others as hostages, for a reason I never understood. But before they can get there, the airships are attacked by a flying gunship from another kingdom, Pejite, from which I guess the Tolmekians had stolen the Giant Warrior and took over their kingdom. While most of the Tolmekian airships are destroyed, Nausicaä and the other hostages survive, and Nausicaä meets the Pejite pilot who had shot down the airships, a boy named Asbel (Shia LaBeouf). And... lots of other stuff happens that I don't want to get into. But eventually they return to the Valley, where the Tolmekian forces are about to attack people who are hiding out in the ruins of an ancient ship. But there's a swarm of Ohmu stampeding straight toward the Valley, baited by Pejite soldiers. Kushana tries to use the not yet fully regenerated Giant Warrior to destroy the Ohmu, but only takes out a fraction of them, so it's up to Nausicaä to try and stop them. (Reading Wikipedia, it says the Giant Warrior was actually formed from an embryo that prematurely hatched, but that's not what it looked like to me, which is why I keep saying "regenerating". It looked fully grown from the start, just... missing some parts, like skin or whatever its outer shell should be.)
Well, the movie has a happy ending, and there's hope for the future of humanity, but that's all I want to say. (On a personal note, the same night I watched this movie I also watched an episode of What If...?, and then read the A.V. Club's review of the episode, which just happened to reference this movie. I thought that was a neat coincidence.) Anyway, definitely an interesting movie, even if I didn't like it quite as much as I'd hoped to.