As Miyazaki’s second feature film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was made two years before Studio Ghibli opened its doors in 1986 – but in all likeliness, it’s this film that made such a move possible. We have a lot to thank Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind for.
It’d be easy to say something to the tune of, “we can see the beginning of a great director’s career”, but Miyazaki has created in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind something that wouldn’t be out of place in the portfolio of his later work. A strange but beautiful world, incredibly interesting and diverse characters, and a powerful story to support it all.
There’ll be no argument: Miyazaki knows how to build an immersive world. For most of his Western audience, we probably first saw it in Spirited Away. But in terms of the world in which it is set, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind seems far more magical to me. It’s my only gripe with any of Miyazaki’s films. The world is so rich, the urge to explore so powerful, that 120 minutes is not enough time. But that single visit to Miyazaki’s creation is what sets Ghibli apart in this Hollywood world of sequels and franchises – 120 minutes also isn’t enough time to ruin a vision.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is remarkable – epic, incredibly well-realised, and entertaining, it ticks all the boxes, and stands out even in Ghibli’s beautiful collection.