ANIMATION; 2hr 7min (Japanese with subtitles)
VOICES BY: Hideaki Anno, Mori Takimoto
Flights of fancy: Horikoshi
The reality-influenced life and times of an aeronautical engineer seems an incongruous choice for an animated movie, even one from the fertile brain of wunderkind Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle). Miyazaki casts an otherworldly thrall over his every dreamy theme. But with the history of Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Hideaki), a near-sighted Japanese aviation nut who fulfils a dark and morally troubling version of his childhood passion for flight with his trailblazing World War II aircraft, Miyazaki’s hypnotic reveries are anchored by nuts and bolts.
Of course, the textural images are wonderful — vibrant and minutely precise. It’s those nuts and bolts, which show Jiro engrossed by both the minutiae of his inspired work and the decline of his infirm love (Mori), that grind rather than fly. The technical intricacies of aircraft design crossed with a slow fade from tuberculosis are an acquired, and ultimately dissatisfying, entertainment taste, while Jiro remains a courteous riddle. But summon your patience and go with the slow flow. The trade-off is a thing of liquid beauty.