Saturday, February 22, 2014
THE WIND RISES And The Problem With How We Weigh the Responsibility of Historical Fiction Films
What's perhaps most detrimental is when this consideration impedes our judgment of the film's quality (or, in some cases, lack thereof) and even its message. Which brings me to The Wind Rises, the Oscar-nominated animated film that's facing off against the Disney darling, Frozen. Most seem to be in favor of the latter winning, with much of the criticism towards Hayao Miyazaki's latest film lending to its somewhat contentious endeavor to avoid political agendas in order to focus on its key storyline. If you're unfamiliar with the movie, which opens nationwide next Friday (it's currently in limited release), you can refer to my review here.
It's surely a complicated and expansive effort that Miyazaki takes on gracefully, even when he tilts the film's focus in its latter half. The politics of war, while minimized, are still present in the movie, providing the sufficient backdrop needed to elevate the objective of the film. In doing so, it offers a different image of the time that is rarely seen in film, from a fresh perspective. Which seems to be the problem we often run into when it comes to historical fiction pieces. While films like 12 Years a Slave are lauded for their valiant efforts to approach the era in its most authentic light, films like The Monuments Men that use a particular period as the scenery to tell a variation story are often received as weaker, more careless efforts.
I'm sure the debate surrounding The Wind Rises will continue to go on--and perhaps even intensify--as we lead up to the Oscars next month, but it will be interesting to see what response the next historical fiction piece will draw from audiences. What makes certain historical fiction pieces significant or less so? What would you like to see from the genre moving forward? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.