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In a post apocalyptic world man survives next to a toxic jungle, full of strange and frightening creatures. In the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaä and her people try to live in harmony with the creatures, but it is a harmony which is quickly broken when her people are drawn into a conflict between the creatures and the neighbouring kingdoms. Assaulted from both sides Nausicaä fights for both her people and the future of the planet...
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984 - 1 hr, 57 min) is the first independent animation from award winning director Hayao Miyazaki, and was the film which founded Studio Ghibli. The movie was written and directed by Miyazaki and was based on his own manga.
The Blu-ray is probably the best the film has been, AVC/MPEG 4 encoded the print sports good black levels, vibrant colours and an increase in detail and sharpness. The story, although wrapped in a fable, does not treat the audience as anything other than intelligent adults able to spot an ecological allegory when they see one.
Miyazaki revisits his ecological roots in many of his films, none more so than this one. Nausicaä is the template for many of his subsequent heroines, tough but also kind, in touch with the world she inhabits. When an airship crashes, during a storm, Nausicaä tries to rescue the crew and although none survive they find the body of a princess and the embryo of a giant warrior, the sort that was used in the war which changed the planet. The plane belongs to the neighbouring state of Tolmekia, who sends an army, under the generalship of princess Kushana, to recover the giant’s embryo.
Kushana takes Nausicaä hostage and attempts to return to her own country to grow the embryo into a full grown warrior, meaning to destroy the toxic forest, but on the way they are attacked by the forces of Pejite. The three way battle finally culminates in a confrontation between the giant insects and the Tolmekian troops for control of both the jungle and of the Valley of the Wind.
You get options to hear the stereo audio in either English or Japanese, with English subtitles. The English track is voiced by an impressive cast, which includes Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos, Mark Hamill and Alison Lohman as Nausicaä. There is a full length, Japanese commentary, with subtitles, from Hideaki Anno and Kazuyoshi Katayama, two of the animators who worked on the film. The track is good natured and informative, often with the two pointing out where the animations doesn’t quite work and discussing working with Miyazaki.
Under the extras you get Storyboards, which includes the storyboards for the whole film which can be viewed alongside the movie as a picture in picture. There is a dialogue between Toshiio Suzuki and Anno (43 min, 40 sec) where they discuss various aspects of the movie. This was originally a radio broadcast so there isn’t anything to actually watch apart from the clock counting down.
The Birth of Studio Ghibli (27 min, 44 sec) is a dramatic recreation of what it is like to work in the studio. It’s an odd idea, but the guy who introduces it promises us a real flavour of what the animators are like, they also restage supposedly important real events. Behind the Microphone (7 min, 45 sec) has the English dub cast talking about the film and yes they all loved it. The disc is finished off with the Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers (8 min, 15 sec) which contains a number of TV and film trailers for the movie. Lastly there are a number of high def trailers for other Miyazaki movies.
This is a great movie and very much a template for what was to come from Studio Ghibli, hopefully they will convert all their movies to Blu-ray.