‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’ (風の谷のナウシカ – Kaze no Tani no Naushika), written and directed by Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki, was released in 1984 and was based on Miyazaki’s own manga of the same name released in 1982. The film has been a huge success, catching the hearts and minds of people all over the world (that is ignoring the terrible ‘Warriors of the Wind’ re-release by New World Pictures!), with it’s beautiful animation and amazing score, composed by Joe Hisaishi, it truly is one of Miyazaki’s best works (and although produced before the establishment of Studio Ghibli, remains a shining star on their profile). *For the sake of character accessibility of some users I will use Nausicaa for this article instead of the original Nausicaä*
*Please be aware that this article contains spoilers*
For those of you who have not (yet) seen the movie: The story focuses on the young princess Nausicaa, who lives in a dystopian future set 1000 years after an apocalyptic war called ‘The Seven Days of Fire’ ended most of civilisation. The world she lives in is now dominated by massive toxic forests, filled with giant insects that were able to adapt to the noxious spores and gases, and have since become it’s protectors. The forest is constantly growing and threatens to consume the remaining pockets of humanity, one of which has settled in the ‘Valley of the Wind’ which is protected from the encroaching forest by ocean winds that repel the spores.
The people are constantly threatened by the toxic forest, but live peacefully in the valley. However, whilst Nausicaa is trying to find out how the people can live safely with nature, other nations are at war with each other and with the forest. Nausicaa must help the people understand the value of the environment and avoid humanity from completely destroying its relationship with nature, but a dark shadow from the past may become the ruin of mankind…
Well, with the theatrics over, lets get to the point. ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind’ actually holds a very poignant ecological, anti-nuclear and anti-war message that is as powerful today as it was in 1984. The film portrays nature as a formidable entity that is dangerous and unpredictable, yet shows us that it is also restorative and spiritual when approached peacefully, and this is the message that Nausicaa wants to reveal. She also later reveals that the forest is actually cleansing the land, removing the poisons left behind by the ‘Seven Days of Fire’, and the toxins are just a by-product of this process. It highlights the restorative powers of nature and reminds us how important environmental processes are in maintaining a healthy planet.
However, the ignorance of the empire states leads to unnecessary and foolish conflicts which do more harm than good; they strive to assert their dominance over nature and establish a world where humans are in charge (sounds familiar right?). It is true that in this film, the actions of the empire states are mainly driven by their fear; they are not evil, just misguided. The awakening of the Giant Warrior (an ancient, living biological weapon) is a reference to nuclear arms, and the ‘Seven Days of Fire’ could be seen as a nuclear war that destroyed civilisations and poisoned the earth.
Despite the militaristic actions of the empire states, Nausicaa remains a pacifist who values life, regardless of what form it takes. This is obvious from her attempts to stop the fighting between the Ohmu and humans, and far from being cowardly, she bravely faces the rampaging Ohmu to calm them. It is only when the Ohmu are calmed, and the people see them revive Nausicaa, that peace is established.
So the message of this film is simple, nature is a very powerful thing, but if we are respectful, we can live in harmony. War is never the answer, it only serves to create more problems and awakens the darker side of the human condition. Nuclear power is dangerous and shouldn’t be tampered with, lest we get burned.
If you think you would like to watch this film (which I wholeheartedly recommend as one of Studio Ghibli’s best productions) then you can find it here on Amazon: