Kaze no Tani no Naushika (1984, JAP) C-116m. **** D: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring (the voices of) Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda, Gorô Naya, Ichirô Nagai, Kôhei Miyauchi. Awe-inspiring science-fiction movie, director Miyazaki's second feature, which also meant the birth of Studio Ghibli. In the world of the future, mankind has withdrawn to little settlements, most of nature has been contaminated by poisonous spores. Giant-sized beetles, so called Ohmu, are the guardians of the forest and go on rampages of destruction if man tries to fight them. Princess Nausicaä, an unusually brave girl, dwells in the Valley of the Wind with her people and roams the forests in search of building materials. Despite an ancient prophecy that promises a savior after a thousand years of suffering, other colonies are ready to wage war, at the cost of their own survival. Is the resurrection of the last remaining giant warrior the solution to all problems, or does it bring the end of the world? Complex, brilliant science-fiction movie with a noble cause is based on Miyazaki's own manga. His characters and story are totally real and believable, his animation contains breathtaking set-pieces, making this one of the most spectacular films ever made. May have been influenced slightly by the STAR WARS films, or even MAD MAX, but transcends these films because it encompasses a valuable message for humanity, making it a true masterpiece. Excellent score by Joe Hisaishi. Followed by TENKU NO SHIRO RAPYUTA (LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY). Trivia note: Nausicaä was a character in Homer's Odyssey. Also released in a truncated 84m. version titled WARRIORS OF THE WIND. Also known as NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WINDS.

© Ron Altman