In honor of the 35th anniversary of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, GKIDS and Fathom Events, in their continuing collaboration for Studio Ghibli Fest 2019, are bringing the acclaimed film back to U.S. theaters on May 20th and 21st. From the legendary Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki comes the epic tale of sweeping scope and grandeur that remains one of the most breathtaking and exhilarating animated films of all time. A thousand years after the Seven Days of Fire destroyed civilization, warring human factions survive in a world devastated by atmospheric poisons and swarming with gigantic insects. The peaceful Valley of the Wind is nestled on the edge of the Toxic Forest and led by the courageous Princess Nausicaä, whose love of all living things leads her into terrible danger, as she fights to restore balance between humans and nature.
If you haven’t seen this film at all over the last 35 years (you’re not alone; I just watched it for the first time myself), it’s a must-watch. Nausicaä is one of the best idealistic heroes of the last few decades, bar none. Her courage, strength, skill, and unwavering sense of right and wrong guide her actions through some of the most inhospitable lands of a war-torn future. From beginning to end, Nausicaä’s story is an absolute classic that is as thrilling today as it was in 1984, even if you know what’s coming. I can’t recommend it enough.
Playing in U.S. theaters on both Monday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m. local time (English-language dubbed) and Tuesday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m. local time (English-language subtitled), tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com, www.ghiblifest.com or at participating theater box offices. A complete list of theater locations is available on the Fathom Events website; theaters and participants are subject to change. Tickets for Studio Ghibli Fest 2019 in Canada are also on sale now; visit www.Cineplex.com for more information.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind features the voices of Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Edward James Olmos and Shia LaBeouf. Check out the event trailer below:
Join Fathom Events and GKIDS to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind when it returns to theaters as part of Studio Ghibli Fest 2019. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://bit.ly/2FEbO73.
Additionally, GKIDS was kind enough to send me a copy of Nausicaä on Blu-ray, along with the first volume of Miyazaki’s source manga. I’ve gone through the Blu-ray’s bonus features below to bring you the best of the best and everything I learned about this amazing movie from the filmmakers behind its creation.
Audio Commentary with Hideaki Anno (key animator) and Kazuyoshi Katayama (assistant director)
- The original opening scene, which was rejected, showed Lord Yupa saving Teto from the insects.
- Miyazaki himself painted the tapestry that plays behind the opening credits, using watercolors and just “having fun” with it after the rest of the movie had been finished. He also drew the opening at the end, with Nausicaä soaring through the clouds on her glider.
- Nausicaä exploring the cave was done by superimposing five handdrawn layers over each other, something that would be “easy” if done digitally, as the filmmakers remark.
- They theorize that Ohms molt by going out through their belly and burrowing into the ground, leaving a shell behind.
- Miyazaki wanted to show Nausicaä’s loneliness at the beginning, which is why she’s talking to herself and lounging beneath the eye shell in the spore shower.
- The first animated Ohm was divided into three layers, and then five, to get the overlapping shell effect. Anno and Miyazaki celebrated after this first animation test was successful.
- Anno first worked at Telecom for a chance to work under Miyazaki, but when the legendary animator quit the company, Anno quit too and followed him, asking to be his assistant. Anno wanted to do anime and ultimately direct, just as much as he wanted to learn from Miyazaki.
- The animators mention that Nausicaä undoing Lastelle’s dress wasn’t enough to communicate that the princess was beyond saving because her dress was fine and there was no blood on it.
- Anno was told that it was Nausicaä who convinced the Giant Warrior to kill itself in the original iteration of the story, though that’s not exactly clear from the way the final movie version worked out.
- They talk about the reveal of Kushana as a woman in the manga versus the anime, with the manga carrying more impact since readers couldn’t hear her voice before seeing her.
- They point out that Nausicaä carries the burden of the young people in the valley village, of which there are few.
- “The Sea of Decay” is shown in blue tones because it was originally the bottom of the sea. All of the creatures were originally deep-sea creatures, which is why they shouldn’t have been “all blue.”
- There’s some fascinating back-and-forth about the personalities of Takahata and Miyazaki, and their different approaches to animation. (There’s also a hilarious story about Miyazaki taking one of Anno’s cassette tapes, listening to the same song over and over again, without headphones, until the tape itself became stretched out and unplayable.)
- Originally, there was a scene where Kushana returned to the castle to “birth” the Giant Warrior, who ruptured its womb and splashed blood on her face. The scene was obviously deleted.
- In the original fight scene between the Giant Warrior and the Ohm, the warrior fought each Ohm with its hands and its beam, only stopping because it was surrounded by Ohm. At the end, it’s firing its beam into the sky.
Interview with Toshio Suzuki and Hideaki Anno: “Nausicaä and Evangelion! The Whereabouts of the Giant Warrior?” (~45 minutes)
- Key animator Hideaki Anno and production committee member Toshio Suzuki, in a conversation from a radio program recorded in December 2009 for Studio Ghibli’s Asemamire, a weekly show.
- Anno, who personally funded Evangelion, talks about going all in, 100% on a project, where with high risk comes high reward.
- It’s a very casual conversation between the two, with Suzuki teasing Anno about “messing around” before breaking through with Evangelion.
- About 9 minutes in, they talk about meeting Miyazaki and Takahata, and what it was like to work with both of them.
- They also discuss the first major collaboration between Miyazaki and Takahata, The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun.
- Suzuki talks about a different final scene that Miyazaki drew for My Neighbor Totoro that was included in Ghibli’s behind-the-scenes book.
- Their conversation goes into all things Ghibli and all of the main movies at the studio, discussing their technical strengths and weaknesses alongside story themes and what Miyazaki and Takahata had in mind for each.
- Anno talks about sleeping in the office in a 60cm space between the wall and a desk while working on Nausicaä. He worked for two and a half months on it and, in his words, was paid more than enough; he talks about working on Macross in college for 1800 yen.
- Miyazaki liked his work as an animator so much that he asked him to work on the Giant Warrior scenes. Anno says that Miyazaki only teaches those he thinks are truly talented, though that also meant he could use those students as assistants and assign them animation tasks so he could work on other parts of the film.
- The 6 – 10 second scenes took Anno two weeks, for the longest sequences. Anno regrets not doing 7 pages instead of 5, thinking it was too quick. But Miyazaki said 5 was fine, especially due to time constraints. (He also said that Miyazaki left him a note saying he’d “kill him” if he used three colors for shadowing instead of two.)
- The original idea for the end of the movie was for Nausicaä to rush down to the Ohm stampede, which would have marked a very sudden and rather dark ending. Suzuki said it was a better ending that she was revived after death, which is eventually what they went with.
- Originally, there was a storyboard that had the Giant Warrior battling the Ohm in a more action-packed sense, but that option didn’t pan out.
- After a few drinks, Miyazaki answered a fellow animator’s question saying that it was “alright that the humans perish, as long as there was some creature left to live in the world.” They talk about how Miyazaki loves nature more than humans.
- A sequel to Nausicaä was considered while he was working on Castle in the Sky. Suzuki said he tried to convince him to make it a trilogy. Instead, Miyazaki wanted to do the seventh volume of the manga.
- Off the record, Anno talks about the “showdown of apprentice and master” between his movie Evangelion and Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.
Behind the Microphone (~10 minutes)
- The English-language voice cast of Mark Hamill, Shia LaBeouf, Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman, Patrick Stewart, Edward James Olmos, and Chris Sarandon appear here to offer commentary.
- Great behind-the-scenes featurette with clips from the finished film paired picture-in-picture with the actors performing in front of their mics.
- Nausicaä was the first voice-acting performance for Lohman, the largest animated project for LaBeouf, and the first English dub for Stewart.
- Thurman and Stewart talk about matching their characters’ facial mannerisms, especially since their characters’ mouths are often obscured by masks and mustaches.
- Hamill compares the voice-acting process to radio asking, saying that he got a lot of parts that he’d never get if they were on camera. He also talks about the fact that voice-acting directors “see” the actors with their ears and they couldn’t care less what they look like during the performance.
Creating Nausicaä (~20 minutes)
- Animation historian Charles Solomon talks about Miyazaki’s themes and motifs throughout his films, regarding Nausicaä
- Miyazaki also appears, talking about the creation of the manga for Nausicaä. At the time, he’d work at the animation studio, come home late at night, work on the manga until dawn, sleep a little bit, and then go back to work at the studio.
- Solomon and Miyazaki talk about the ecological themes of the film, which the legendary animator talking specifically about the Ohm, their inspiration in the real world, and the translation from manga to the screen.
- The Giant Warriors comes as both a Japanese myth and legend, and a stand-in for all modern evils of unnatural technology and warfare.
- Miyazaki and composer Joe Hisaishi talk about their long collaborative process and creating music for Nausicaä and other films. Hisaishi admits that he found Miyazaki “weird” upon first meeting him, but has been impressed by his genuine enthusiasm for more than 25 years.
Original Theatrical Trailers