I just watched Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind again for the first time in…2 years? 3 years? And, to my surprise, I really didn’t like it.
Maybe i’ve grown up a bit in my stance of war and environmentalism, or maybe i’ve only just started paying attention, but the themes in Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind seriously infuriate me as well as the way Miyazaki sacrifices characterisation and plot for the sake of propaganda.
So many times in the film, humanity giving up and dying is portrayed as the morally right thing to do. For example, both the Pejite’s and the Tolmekian’s in the film aim to burn down the Toxic Jungle, but Nausicaä insists that the jungle is purifying the soil and should thus be left alone. Now, when you consider the fact that the advancing jungle will still kill anyone it comes across, I don’t really understand why Nausicaä’s argument of long-term good is worth it.
Sure, eventually the world will be purified, but if all of humanity have died of toxic poisoning by then why does it matter?
The other instance is towards the end when Koshana activates the God Warrior to save everybody from the oncoming Ohm. Obaba literally says that if humanity has to rely on the God Warrior then they all deserve to die anyway…what kind of f**ked up logic is that? Is she seriously suggesting that all those people (many of whom are just innocent bystanders) deserve to die if they try and defend themselves? The Ohm are clearly the aggressors in this situation! They are prepared to massacre hundreds of humans for the sake of the single baby Ohm, without even checking who is responsible in the first place.
The final thing that annoyed be was the fact that nature was treated as benevolent, with the toxic forest and the insects being altruistic. ‘Nature’, in and of itself, is completely amoral. Organisms don’t evolve for the sake of cleaning up pollution, if organisms do clean up pollution, it’s merely a side-effect of them going about their day-to-day lives. It slightly annoys me when environmentalists fail to make this distinction…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the conservation and protection of the biosphere; I’m even a vegetarian. I just don’t pretend that nature is inherently ‘nice’.
The film also suffers from over-simplifying the causes and morality of war. No matter how convenient it would be, the morality behind warfare is never clear cut. Both sides, for whatever reason, generally think what they are doing is either morally right or fundamentally necessary. I would argue that wars don’t start because of hate but because of love. I love my family more than I love a group of strangers, therefore, if resources were sparse, I would prioritise my family over others…BINGO, you’ve just got the start of a conflict.
Similarly, if I were fighting an ideological war, I would have no doubt that my enemy would have as much conviction in their morality as I would in mine and thus, if compromise is unachievable, fighting a war may be the only viable option. Neither side necessarily deserves to be demonised as ‘warmongers’ nor talked down to by self-righteous pacifists
I guess what I’m saying is that, while war is a wicked thing, usually, the people and reasoning at it’s root are not. For this reason, I don’t like preachy pacifists nor do I really like thinly-disguised propaganda films like Nausicaa
It has a good premise though.