20 years ago Roger Corman's New World Pictures cut 30 minutes out of Hayao Miyazake's post-apocalyptic eco-fable Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and released it as Warriors of the Wind, with Star Wars-conscious packaging and English-sounding character names. Nausicaa--actually named for a minor Greek character in Homer--became "Princess Zandra" and the monstrous insects called Ohmu became "Gorgons." The film has just been re-released by Disney on DVD, largely untampered-with. It's much better, still visually stunning, but here are some initial quibbles:

--Watch the Japanese language version first. I've only caught a little of the English, but Patrick Stewart as Lord Yupa sounds intrusively Patrick Stewart-like, and Nausicaa has the same irritating Valley Girl voice all American dubs of teenage anime characters seem to have. Also you really don't want to hear Uma Thurman using anachronistic words like "weasel" in a story where the tone is grimly neo-medieval.

--Among Miyazake's most frightening and impressive creations are the fearsome God Warriors--bioengineered giants capable of setting off nuclear explosions, who scoured the Earth in the "seven days of fire," a cataclysm the planet has still barely recovered from in Nausicaa's time. The manga reveals these beings as literal (albeit artificial) Gods with the power to "arbitrate" the affairs of humans. Much force resides in the phrase "God Warrior," which is how every version and much anime scholarship has translated it. Until now--Disney calls them "Giant Warriors." I'm guessing this is because here in the USA we worship the One True God, who will have no other gods before him, even in fiction.

--In the original Japanese cut (and Warriors, too) Nausicaa wears flesh-colored leggings, making her look naked whenever her tunic flaps up, which is often, since she spends much of the movie piloting a kind of flying Segway called a mehve. One Scottish critic referred to her as "the film's bare-bottomed heroine." Disney has discreetly tinted the leggings pale yellow. You never know, a fundamentalist Mormon might be watching the movie and want her as a fourth or fifth wife. Also the mehve is boringly called a "glider."

More disgruntled fan musings to come. It's still a good movie.

- tom moody 3-02-2005 8:51 pm

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