Nausicaä, a warrior princess from the Valley of the Wind, finds herself caught in a war between two warring nations. Meanwhile, a toxic wasteland containing enraged giant insects encroaches the land.
“Having ended Nausicaä doesn’t mean that everything has ended or come to a conclusion... I ended the story at the same point as we are now, at the starting point of an incomprehensible world.”
“I told Miyazaki I love the ‘gratuitous motion’ in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are. ‘We have a word for that in Japanese,’ he said. ‘It's called ma. Emptiness. It's there intentionally.’ Is that like the "pillow words’ that separate phrases in Japanese poetry? ‘I don't think it's like the pillow word.’ He clapped his hands three or four times. ‘The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it's just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.”
“Why did the lead character have to be female? Well, it doesn’t look truthful if the guy has power like that! Women are able to straddle both the real world and the other world – like mediums. In the oldest form of the Cinderella story, she was able to travel freely to the other world through the hearth: that’s what empowered her. It isn’t the swordplay that Nausicäa is good at, it’s that she understands both the human world and the insect world. No animals feel danger in approaching her; she’s able to totally erase her sense of presence, existence. Males, they are aggressive, only in the human sphere – very shallow! So it had to be a female character.”
“The complexity of Nausicaä as a character and, by extension, of the entire film revolving around her exploits is amplified by the fact that the princess is perceived as both human and superhuman. This is intimated by her climactic visual connection with the legendary blue-robed savior mentioned in an early sequence of the movie. For this reason, some spectators have regarded Nausicaä as a fundamentally messianic narrative and found its deus-ex-machina conclusion, in particular, quite unsatisfactory. It could be argued that Nausicaä's ending, though reparative, is not conclusively happy insofar as it does not promise any automatic redemption for the generations of humans and insects to come, and actually functions as an ironical enhancer of the pervasive sense of darkness that dominates the main body of the story. Indeed, it is hardly deniable that even the joyous moments that emphasize the intense delight that the brave princess is capable of deriving from contact with all living things, albeit refreshing, ultimately serve to throw into relief the surrounding tides of violence, selfishness, vindictiveness and blind hatred. The sense that the finale does not deliver any definite guarantee of peace or harmony but hints instead at the trials that the future holds in store is conveyed more explicitly by the closing words of the manga, where the couragous embracing of the injuction to go on living is inextricably intertwined with a frank recognition of the arduousness of this task: ‘no matter how difficult it is, we must live’ – an assertion which Michael Lane aptly describes as ‘words of passionate hope against seeming reason.’”
- 1Roger Ebert, “Hayao Miyazaki interview,” rogerebert.com, 12 September 2002.
- 2Dan Jolin, “Miyazaki On Miyazaki: The Animation Genius On His Movies,” Empire, 28 July 2011.
- 3Dani Cavallaro, “The Animé Art of Hayao Miyazaki,” (Jefferson, North Carolina, London: McFarland & Company, 2006).