The great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s new film, which moves elliptically from early 20th century Japan through the earthquake of 1923 to the aftermath of World War II, was inspired by the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter plane. Miyazaki’s father worked in the aviation industry, and he shares his principled, contemplative hero’s passionate love of engineering and longing for flight—it’s at the heart of the film’s story, its visionary imagery, and its poetic refrains and touchstones (the title is from a poem by Valéry—”The wind is rising! We must try to live”). The Wind Rises is something wondrous—a pacifist film with a protagonist who understands that his country is headed for disaster but pursues his dream. It’s also a great and astonishingly beautiful work—and quite a controversial one in Japan—about the fragility of humanity and the pursuit of love.