Why be just a Princess, when you could be a bad ass, botanist, insect-whispering, glider-riding Princess? In this edition of Creations of Chaos, I look at the movie that gave birth to Studio Ghibli, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Version Watched: English Dubbed
There was a bit of debate concerning including Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Technically it was made before there was a Studio Ghibli. It was the film that brought Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata together. After the film’s success, the two animation geniuses joined to create the studio that has continued to produce magical, dazzling, films. However, since Studio Ghibli has claimed it as part of their collection, including it seemed to be the proper thing to do.
Welcome to the Jungle
Industry and war have polluted and destroyed most of the world. There is an expanding, toxic jungle that is threatening to envelop what is left of the world. The human kingdoms that remain are at war with the toxic jungle, and its prehistoric, insect inhabitants.
Instead of unifying, which would make the most sense, the leaders of the remaining kingdoms fight to become the supreme world power, creating a never ending cycle of bloodshed.
Nausicaa, the Princess of the Valley of the Wind, is kind, good, and brave. All she wants is to keep the peace, while keeping her people safe. She has a special talent for calming the murderous insects, but cannot calm the war-hungry humans. Though her kingdom has no desire to war with nature or with other kingdoms, they are unwillingly thrown into the chaos. After discovering the truth of the toxic jungle, Nausicaa must risk her life to save all of humanity.
A Beautiful Apocalypse
Most post-apocalyptic settings tend to be barren, grey, landscapes of despair. Although there are desolate landscapes in Nausicaa’s world, there is also beauty. The animation used to depict the toxic jungle shows a place that is deadly, yet lovely. As a viewer, you understand that this place wants to kill you, and yet, you are ready to plunk down your cash and pack your bags for a visit. The vibrant plants, sparkly toxic spores, even the creepy, crawly creatures are magical. In other films, the after desolation world can be so depressing, you almost wonder if it is worth saving.
When Nausicaa shows that the beauty of the jungle can be recreated in a non-toxic environment, there is proof that her world is a world worth fighting to save.
No Ordinary Princess
Nausicaa is a character I wish I had met as a little girl. She would have made me brave. She is amazingly inspiring. The Princess is wise and level-headed. She knows when it is time to be gentle and kind. She knows when it is time to be strong and courageous. She can wield a sword and fly a glider better than most.
She is not a prissy Princess, she is a bad ass. Nausicaa doesn’t complain. Whatever the job is, she gets it done. What a wonderful role model for young girls, and old girls, too.
Wolves to Bugs
It’s hard not to compare Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind to Princess Mononoke. They are both stories about nature trying to preserve itself against humans. Both Princesses are fierce, and have a special bond with the creatures others despise.
Though the Princess Mononoke film comes well after Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, you can almost see the post apocalyptic world of Nausicaa being the result of the events in Princess Mononoke. If Lady Eboshi continued to expand her industry, destroying more and more forest, causing ever-expanding pollution, then perhaps the forest would begin to evolve. The forest spirits and animals would fall away, and the insects would take over as protectors. Humans would begin dying as a result of the pollution, and soon, you have the world of Nausicaa.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a must see Studio Ghibli film. The characters are strong, the Princess is awesome, the story is intelligent, and the world is amazing. You can see how it laid the groundwork for all of the inspiring films that followed, and for all of the films that are hopefully to come.