JAY ALEXANDER BROWN
Hold on to your hat, because on Tuesday, July 22, the Oak Bluffs Tabernacle will be whisked away to the Valley of the Wind.
As part of its Tabernacle Series of film screenings, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will show Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the 1984 anime classic by Japanese artist Hayao Miyazaki. The Oak Bluffs Association is co-sponsoring the events. The evening will also feature a presentation from the EcoMV Biostore in Vineyard Haven, discussing preservation issues and providing kids with easy tips for greener living.
Nausicaä tells the story of a young princess who fights to restore peace and harmony to the world following an apocalyptic war that destroys much of the natural environment.
Mr. Miyazaki, an Academy Award winner, is admired for his timeless — and financially successful — animated films. His 1997 Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history until its record was surpassed in 2001 by another Miyazaki film, Spirited Away. In a 2006 feature on Asian Heroes, Time magazine described Mr. Miyazaki as “Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg and Orson Welles combined.”
“Nausicaä was way ahead of its time when it first came out, with its criticism of mankind being insensitive to nature,” said Richard Paradise, director of the film society and a self-proclaimed anime fan. “Obviously it’s a fantasy, not a documentary. It’s not An Inconvenient Truth. But it did predict things that are happening today, and it’s great inspiration for kids.”
That is not to say that grownups won’t enjoy the movie, too; Mr. Paradise expects an all-ages crowd at the Tabernacle. “My son loves it at 15; I love it at 45!” he exclaimed, ruing the common perception that animated flicks are kiddie stuff. “If it were a children’s movie, we wouldn’t be showing it.”
Jamie, 11, agrees that anime’s appeal spans generations. The summer resident of Edgartown and patron of Vineyard Scoops ice cream watched Nausicaä with her grandfather, and both enjoyed it. “Pop-Pop expected it to be just like a Disney movie. He said he was impressed at the complexity of the story,” she said. “I thought the drawings were more beautiful than most American ones ... In Japan they’re probably more aware of nature!”
Every summer the film society stages one or two “green screens” — that is, environmentally-themed movie events. Last year 350 people showed up for a screening of Sharkwater.
“The Island is wonderful because we have so many advocacy groups,” Mr. Paradise mused, surprised that I — a New Jersey native — wasn’t aware that fluorescent light is six times more energy-efficient than incandescent. “For the rest of the United States, many places don’t have those same advantages.”
The film society is now in its eighth year, and the Tabernacle Series in its fourth summer. While pictures played at the Tabernacle must be suitable for all audiences, the film society stages more provocative events at other Island venues. For instance, they will be cosponsoring a special evening with Iraq veterans at the West Tisbury Grange Hall later this month. Billed as Speak Truth to Power, the July 26 benefit will raise money for Iraq, Paper, Scissors, an ongoing film project featuring the art and poetry of combat warriors.
For the Nausicaä screening, there will be parking available in Trinity Park adjacent to the Tabernacle. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. July 22 and the movie will begin at 8 o’clock. Tickets to the screening are $8, or $5 for film society members.