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Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Edward James Olmos ... see more see more... , Chris Sarandon , Mark Hamill , Tress MacNeille

This impressive work from acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki represents a significant departure from traditional anime. Foregoing the gritty storylines, extreme violence, and adult content fou... read more read more...nd throughout many anime, Miyazaki's works borrow as much from fairy tales as they do from science fiction. Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind is no exception. Centuries after war has devastated the earth, Princess Nausicaa leads the people of the Valley of the Wind. Feuding clans fight with planes and tanks as well as swords in a world that is both primitive and futuristic. In addition to her people's conflicts with other factions, Nausicaa must also contend with the insects of the jungle including the Ohmu, a race of giant, intelligent bugs that poisons the surrounding atmosphere - and is spreading rapidly. The setting of this 1984 animation owes much to the post-apocalypse genre spawned by Mad Max and other films, and the political subplot is often compared to Frank Herbert's Dune. However, the heroine here has more in common with the female protagonists of the Disney musicals such as Pocohantas and Mulan; Nausicaa is more concerned with harmony and communication than with conquest and revenge. Sympathetic to the Ohmu, she learns she must approach them with understanding to achieve peace and restore the dying world. This film is beautifully animated and written, and the moral to this ecological fable is difficult to miss. The film was dubbed into English in the mid-2000s, hence the presence of such actors as Shia LeBoeuf, who wasn't born yet when the film was originally made. ~ Jonathan E. Laxamana, Rovi

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91% liked it

70,042 ratings

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86% liked it

14 critics

DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005

Stats: 4,651 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (4,651)


  • November 12, 2013
    A grim and powerful epic that boasts an inventive, visually rich universe and an ecological message that only gets more and more relevant in our times - and it's wonderful to see a brave princess who fights to save her world with the fearlessness of a warrior.
  • July 20, 2013
    Hayao Miyazaki's second feature (based on the first two volumes of his own manga) and often considered Studio Ghibi's debut despite being produced before it's formation. It might as well be considered part of the Ghibli cannon since this is where Miyazaki's signature style finall... read morey came into focus. All the familiar themes and tropes of his works are present: strong female leads, environmental themes, Miyazaki's love for planes, absence of traditional villains (every character has a morally sympathetic motivation), and his unique sense of epic grandeur. The animation is a bit rough around the edges but it is still breath-taking even by today's standards; the awesome plane battle, the herd of giant mutant insects, the graceful scenes of Nausicaa effortlessly gliding through the air, and the sequence involving a super weapon known as "The Giant Warrior" are the definite highlights.

    Nausicaa is a decent protagonist because she is very mature for her age and possesses a deeper understanding for the world than even the adults. She may come off as a bit too perfect or complainy at times but nevertheless you sympathize with her as she tries to protect her people, who are caught between an awfully chaotic three-way war. One of Miyazaki's biggest talents is being able to draw you into the film's universe with an eye for detail and organic characters that seem to jump out of the screen (a lot of the times, Miyazaki's animated characters come off as more real than even people in live-action films). The post-apocalyptic setting is suitably dreary but the charming array of relatable characters and subtle humorous moments gives the film tender charm, making it perfect for audiences both young and old.

    Despite it's heavy handed environmental subtext (that becomes just plain text at times) and Miyazaki telling a similar story in the much superior 'Princess Mononoke', this post-nuclear war fable is an epic movie that is still worth seeing. We wouldn't have gotten all the other wonderful works of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli if it weren't for this flick.
  • June 19, 2013
    a fantastic fantasy story set in a very compelling world with fantastic characters. as usual the animation is stellar for this pre-ghibli film, and the effect that the story has on the viewer runs deep. one of the most fluid of miyazaki's films.
  • February 29, 2012
    Stunning animation, memorable characters, and a timeless message inhabit Hayao Miyazaki's earliest masterpiece. Though it's environmental lecturing is a bit obvious and it looks dated compared to Studio Ghibli's later efforts, "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" remains both a b... read moreenchmark in the world of animation and a brilliant work of cinema. There is a power and grace here rarely present in other films; animated or not.
  • fb1672039553
    December 19, 2011
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    In his second film, Miyazaki more strongly makes his case to be environmentally aware than in any of his other movies. The human race is on the line, and the quaint childhood adventure movie I've grown accustomed to in his later works is replaced with a princess caught between tw... read moreo (well, three) warring armies with planes, tanks, guns, and swords, and rage. Lots of rage. The result is a very epic movie: instead of a heart-breaking, precious and innocent protagonist, we have an awe-inspiring warrior of peace and harmony, in control of her emotions and already much further down the line of understanding the world than anyone else. Luckily, Miyazaki did find a way to add playful moments of children as well as tender and physically broken characters.
  • September 23, 2011
    Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind was a great debut for Studio Ghibli and is a good introduction to Hayao Miyazaki's work. The story was retold as, the far superior Princess Mononoke but Nausicaa should be as highly regarded. The animation, story and music are typical of Studio ... read moreGhibli and typical of what we have come to expect - although it keeps getting better. Brilliant.
  • July 27, 2011
    A thoroughly typical Studio Ghibli movie, which means that it's charmingly and expertly animated, and has an environmentally friendly message.

    I can't place Nausica√§ among my favorite Ghibli films like Spirited Away and The Cat Returns, though. Other than Nausica√§ herself, th... read moree characters aren't very memorable. The story is simple and straightforward, almost to the point of being bland, and the pro-nature message is very heavy-handed, even though it's appreciated. The first half of the movie is also better than the latter half, in my opinion.

    Still, this is a movie I like to revisit from time to time, even though it lacks some of the imagination and immersion of superior Ghibli films. It's beautifully animated, though in a way that's more utilitarian than awe-inducing. Keep in mind, that even a merely "decent" Ghibli film is still more than worth checking out.
  • June 13, 2011
    Masterpiece Hayao Miyazaki animated film with adventure after an apocalypse that brings it's imaginative and well-coneived world puts me in mind of Dune with its feuding factions, its giant creatures, and its strong ecological message.
    There are fantastic aerial sequences ... read morelike the jet-glider evading the flying snakes, which are just a tour-de-force of imagination and geometry. And yet this is a world that feels very organic, not geometric, with a cast of characters drawn in a unique cross between hobo, samurai, and pirate - totally blending in to an imaginary post apocalyptic world where humans scratch out a precarious life in villages hidden in the few green valleys left in a world of desert, where the only remaining resources are wind, sunlight, and humans.
    It really is a film which is perfectly pitched at both a young and an adult audience. As Miyazaki's second feature film it is also, rightly or wrongly, usually considered the start of Studio Ghibli, and is arguably worth watching for historical reasons, too.
  • March 3, 2011
    No-one could ever accuse Hayao Miyazaki of aiming low. His second full-length feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, is a hugely ambitious epic combining environmentalism, gender politics and the respective ethics of war and pacifism. And while like so many epics it is ulti... read moremately loose and sprawling, it contains all the classic ingredients which have made him the godfather of modern Japanese animation.

    The first and most obvious of these ingredients is the animation itself. Although it might not have the bright, glossy sheen of Miyazaki's more recent offerings, there can be no denying that Nausicaa looks fantastic. The detail in every frame is immaculate, accurately capturing every changing hue in the ohmu's eyes or every strand of the princess' billowing hair. The colour scheme blends pale pastel shades for the Valley of the Wind with the ethereal blues of the underground forest and the sharper, more metallic tones of the ohmu and aeroplanes.

    What makes Miyazaki's animation distinctive is his ability to make the beautiful seem creepy and vice versa without any real change in physical composition. What we initially view as being inherently malicious or horrid (like the charging ohmu) eventually reveal themselves as being good-natured, albeit easily led. Likewise when the Tolmekians arrive, their advanced technology and regal uniforms lead them to appear benevolent and civilised. But long before the Giant Warrior has been prematurely raised, we understand where their loyalties and intentions truly lie.

    There are a number of through-lines in Nausicaa to Miyazaki's later, better works. As in Princess Mononoke, the central protagonist is a woman who defies traditional gender roles, a pacifist who hates bloodshed but is willing to fight to the death to protect her people. Both films also feature a domineering matriarch seeking to use the power of ancient gods for world domination. And like Porco Rosso, the film sees Miyazaki playing out his obsession with flight, giving us amazing flying machines and jet-powered gliders whose designs are enough to take one's breath away.

    Like so much of Miyazaki's work, there are clear hints of Western film and literature in the story and characters of Nausicaa. But where later works would draw heavily on Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, the biggest influence in this case is the original Star Wars trilogy. The opening section, with Nausicaa wandering through the murky forest in her strange mask, recalls the mynocks sequence in The Empire Strikes Back. The design of the Pejitan ship bears a striking resemblance to Jabba's cruise vessel during the sarlacc scenes in Return of the Jedi. And Lady Kushana, with her high neckbrace and bionic limbs, is a clear stand-in for Darth Vader.

    Despite these prominent overtones of space opera, Nausicaa is much less Star Wars than Silent Running when it comes to its themes and substance. The film is a brilliantly subtle look at environmental politics and the human impact on nature. Aside from making more general points about the need for humans and nature to live side by side and depend upon each other, it insightfully comments on Man's ability to misinterpret His surroundings in a way which is calamitous for both sides.

    The thrust of Nausicaa is not so much that humans exploit their surroundings, but that they misunderstand them. The film makes no bones about humans being the cause of the Sea of Decay, but it doesn't simply condemn the existing foundations of civilisation and lay out an unrealistic alternative. On the one hand, we are shown that none of the races in this future are safe from the Sea of Decay: even the Valley of the Wind, with its seeming harmony and economy of nature, is rooted in the same toxic soil that covers the whole earth. On the other hand, there is the underground, non-toxic forest in the middle of the Sea of Decay. This symbolises the ability in nature and in humans for something good to come out of the most evil and toxic of places.

    The film argues that the means of judgement humans employ and the attitudes they take in doing so are every bit as important as the actual actions they take. The problem is not humans using or developing technology, whether windmills or weapons; it is the ends which they serve and the methods of thinking which such decisions cultivate. Lady Kushana's attempts to use the Giant Warrior to fight off the ohmu and the Sea of Decay may be motivated by moral reasons, at least initially. But her efforts are ultimately in vain because they become driven not only by selfish political gain but an ignorance of the true nature of the environment and the insects that inhabit it.

    Although the film is set in a post-apocalyptic future, the culture of Nausicaa is a blend of mediaeval and modern in terms of its design. The film counterpoints the sedentary lifestyle of the peasant communities in the Valley of the Wind with the WWI-like uniforms worn by the Tolmekian army. In addition to the universal environmental issues facing humanity, we have societies progressing through different stages of economic development, and their attitudes towards their surroundings change. Those in the Valley of the Wind utilise nature without manipulating it, while the Tolmekians use their planes and weapons to brush aside any aspect which opposes them.

    In amongst all this cutting social and political analysis, we have a series of believable relationships which anchor the themes of the film. The 'romance' between Princess Nausicaa and Asbel never feels contrived and does not follow the predictable course of the male and female protagonists in other such films (Ferngully especially). Like all Miyazaki's works there is an inherent respect for both woman and the elderly, both of whom demonstrate their resilience and usefulness at key points in the storyline. The supporting cast are all believable, with even the smallest of characters feeling or at least appearing distinctive.

    There are, a couple of flaws with Nausicaa, one contextual and one general. The contextual flaw is the soundtrack, which comprises keyboard or synth-based dance pop that never gels with the main action sequences. Rather like Giorgio Moroder's restructuring of Metropolis, the addition of 1980s keyboard instrumentals to the flying sequences detracts from what we are seeing rather than enhance it, and this is is the one aspect of Nausicaa that hasn't dated well.

    The more general complaint is one of narrative structure. In the last half hour the film is cutting between so many different aspects of the final confrontation that the plot becomes a bit too much of a jumble. We can just about follow what is going on, but we have to balance so much that all the potentially impressive sequences sort of pass us by. The death of the Giant Warrior, which resembles Ctuhlu from the work of H. P. Lovecraft, is only on screen for a couple of minutes, and its death seems rather too hasty considering the huge amount of build-up.

    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a very good, brilliantly-made film which hints at the future greatness of Miyazaki as both a storyteller and animator. Despite its narrative shortcomings and dated soundtrack, it is every bit as visually ravishing as it was 27 years ago, and its thematic richness is plain for all to see. It's not Princess Mononoke, or Spirited Away, but it is an entertaining and enlightening introduction to a truly magical career.
  • October 8, 2010
    This was okay type. Comparing with "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away", this seemed to be boring to me. I did liked how Nausicaa have that special power to understand animals. And I did liked some scenes. The ending where everyone thought she died made me upset too. Hayao ... read moreMiyazaki have that power to bring you into his animated world where you'll get involved, emotionally. But yeah, this didn't (or I must say, couldn't) reached my expectation.

    p.s: I rate this by judging the movie. Not the creator of it. This is clearly overrated as some people simply rate this because of the director's other (awesome) movies. Please don't do that.

Critic Reviews


Michael Sragow
April 1, 2013
Michael Sragow, New Yorker

When mammoth dandelions puff out spores, the sight is as seductive as it is lethal. Full Review

Tasha Robinson
August 10, 2009
Tasha Robinson, AV Club

Nausicaš is in some ways a grim and serious film, but it mixes a sweet optimism into its horror-filled lessons. Full Review

John Gholson
March 26, 2014
John Gholson, Cinematical

It's not only an amazing piece of animation, but an incredible work of science-fiction as well. Full Review

Christopher Runyon
February 20, 2014
Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine

Gives children a legitimately hopeful and enduring lesson about doing the right thing in times of crisis. Full Review

David Nusair
March 9, 2011
David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

...grows more and more complicated and convoluted as time progresses... Full Review

Tim Brayton
March 6, 2010
Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Enjoys a visual richness and narrative ambition virtually unheard of in animation prior to its release. Full Review

Felix Vasquez Jr.
April 29, 2009
Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Once again, Miyazaki's entry is nothing short of spectacular. Full Review

Michael Dequina
May 10, 2005
Michael Dequina, TheMovieReport.com

Nausicaš, princess of the Valley of the Wind, is a screen heroine--or, rather, hero--for the ages. Full Review

Jeffrey M. Anderson
May 2, 2005
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

Miyazaki's instincts take over from time to time in the film's rare quiet moments, but overall it's awfully preachy and wearying. Full Review

Zach Hines
March 9, 2005
Zach Hines, Filmcritic.com

For all its inventiveness, it doesn't really compare to Miyazaki's later pictures. Full Review

Critic ratings and reviews powered by RottenTomatoes.com

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