Hayao Miyazaki’s second feature was his breakthrough: it was the first film over which he had complete artistic control, and its great success led to the founding of Studio Ghibli. Nausicaä is considered by many to be Miyazaki’s masterwork — and there are few films, animated or otherwise, of such sweeping scope and grandeur. Set in a devastated future world decimated by atmospheric poisons and swarming with gigantic insects, Nausicaä is the story of a young princess, both brave and innocent, whose love for all living things and passionate determination to understand the processes of nature lead her into terrible danger, sacrifice, and eventual triumph. Like most Studio Ghibli films, there is neither good nor evil, but conflicting viewpoints, weaknesses, and power struggles. Throughout the film, Miyazaki’s animation is awe-inspiring; the depiction of the poisoned forest in particular is a thing of transcendent beauty. Once the hallucinogenic strangeness of shape and color has been accepted, there is light, growth, and life everywhere. Huge dragonfly-like creatures are accompanied by wonderful, evocative sounds of flight and movement. The lethal fungus plants glow, shimmer, and shed spores like silent gleaming snowfalls. A film not to be missed. Colour, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. 116 mins.
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"All the Miyazaki hallmarks are in place: rapturous explorations of natural vistas, a fascination with flight and flying machines, and a spunky female lead out to change the world, or at least hold her corner of it together through sheer love."AV Club | full review