More of a proto-Ghibli movie than Miyazaki’s “The Castle of Cagliostro” was, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” demonstrates a lot more of what the studio would come to be known for – greatly imaginative settings, scenes of flying and planes, optimism rendered in melancholy worlds, well-realised female characters as leads, the strength of the power of imagination and creativity beyond what’s considered normal, distinctive and unique visuals, a deep sense of love and respect for nature and beauty, gorgeous piano-led musical scores, and so on.
The film burns with a fiercely passionate attitude of respect towards animals and nature, not just in a pithy recognition of their beauty or anything as mercantile as “value”, but a genuine recognition of the respect life is owed. Slowly extending that attitude from animals easier to love to the eerie insects positioned as a sort of antagonistic force was done smoothly (less so the exposition that rears its head often to muddy the film’s worldbuilding even further). The way the shells of the ohmu undulated was particularly striking. The pastels of the film are evocative, and Miyazaki continually finds interesting and beautiful ways to render even the ugliest parts of the film’s post-apocalyptic setting.
The plot and pacing and politics of the film get away from it, especially in the ending which feels more infantile and tonally adrift than the hours that preceded it, but as a statement in visual and theme, it’s wonderful. Three and a half ohmus, and a pet fox.