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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that a shortened version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind came out in the United States in the 1980s, but this is review is for the full 117-minute film. Themes of protecting the environment, living peacefully, and respecting all creatures are very strong here, and the heroine, Nausicaa, is extremely admirable. But she faces a lot of danger in the form of intense airship battles with explosions, her people taken as hostages, and her is father shot and killed. Nausicaa is also injured by gunfire protecting animals from harm.
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What's the story?
In NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, it's been 1,000 years since industrialized civilization ended in the "Seven Days of Fire." A toxic jungle has taken over where giant bugs rule, especially the fierce beetle-like ohmu. Humans live in smaller cities and villages now and travel via airship and glider over the jungles. Princess Nausicaa's village is in a valley along the ocean with a steady breeze to keep out the noxious gasses of the jungle. It's almost idyllic, until airships from Tolmekia invade, insisting that "uniting" all peoples and then destroying the toxic jungle is the only way for humans to survive. Nausicaa, who has come to understand the ways of the insects and discovers a secret beneath the jungle, tries to make the Tolkemians understand their folly before it's too late for her village and all of humanity.
Is it any good?
Of course it's beautifully done, it's from Hayao Miyazaki, director of Spirited Away, Ponyo, and many other striking Japanese animated films. And the level of creativity displayed in each crazy giant insect, toxic plant, and battered airship is captivating. Add to that a story with a great message and a very admirable heroine -- one of Miyazaki's best. The dubbing in this version is pretty good too.
Guaranteed many anime fans are thrilled that the original long version is now what's available here -- the one released in theaters back in the '80s was shortened. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind does feel a bit long at times, but if kids' minds wander during a discussion of why one village is fighting another they can just stare at the cool animation until they get back into it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about great female heroes. What makes Nausicaa such a worthy role model in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind? What other strong female heroes can you think of?
There's quite a bit of violence in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. How did it impact you? How does it compare to what you might see in a live-action movie?
Talk about the movie's eco-message. How is the Earth repairing itself? Why is destroying the toxic jungle aggressively the wrong way to save humanity? Is there a right way? How are the movies' themes relevant to current issues?
Why do you think this movie is considered an anime classic? How is it different from the majority of Hollywood animated movies?
- On DVD or streaming: February 22, 2005
- Cast: Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Uma Thurman
- Director: Hayao Miyazaki
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Character strengths: Compassion, Courage
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence.
- Last updated: August 20, 2020
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