Sunday, May 11, 2014

MR Porco Rosso

This Sunday, let's revisit another classic from Miyazaki!

Find more Studio Ghibli animated classics reviewed here!
Pre-Ghibli films: HorusPanda Go Panda / Castle of Cagliostro / Chie / Gauche / Nausicaä
Ghibli films - 1986 to xx:LaputaGrave of the FirefliesTotoroKiki / Omohide Poro Poro

Movie: Porco Rosso 
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki 
Release date 1992
Genre Adventure anime film
Country Japan

The 6th film produced by Studio Ghibli for Toho was also Hayao Miyazaki's sixth overall feature film.

Pitched by Japan Airlines it was originally simply intended to be a short 30-54 minute-long animation for their in-flights.

As they put it, they wanted a simple small feature, "a fun movie for middle-aged businessmen whose brains became tofu from overwork".

Hayao Miyazaki decided to base it on an older short manga in watercolor he had done himself in the past.

But thanks to his love for all things concerning aviation, it soon quickly grew more ambitious and outgrew those first intention to become a feature-lenght animated picture!

Quickly Porco Rosso become one of Studio Ghibli's most recognizable works and a well-loved classic addition to their history.

Our film follows the titular "Porco Rosso".

A mysterious Italian Air Force pilot who has long left the field following the rise of fascism at the time and has now become a freelance bounty hunter under the name of Porco Rosso - aka the "Crimson Pig".

Our hero seems to have been an ace pilot during the war. There are some brief hints regarding his actual backstory, but it's clearly not the main preoccupation in this film. Porco Rosso appears to have  been part of the Italian air force. A pilot that somehow got turned into a pig and is now living at large hiding his real identity. He lost his past to the Great War and fascism..

Our story is set in the Adriatic Sea in the period in-between wars.

Porco Rosso is haunted by memories of his old squadron's death...

While trying to find his old friend Piccolo, a mechanic, he meets his granddaughter Fio. She proves herself just as great a mechanic and quite skilled with planes as her grandfather. Her dedication to planes warms Porco Rosso to her presence. The pair finally team up over the course of the film.

Porco Rosso is often threatened by the local pirates. They destroy his plane.

Finally a large duel is organized to set things right, set around the islands...

Will Porco Rosso defeats his foes once and for all, thanks to the help from his young mechanic?

While it started as a short animation, the film was much simpler and more comedic in tone.

But the real life war in Yugoslavia made Hayao Miyazaki rethink the entire film, a more serious tone was called for...

Which resulted in my eyes in one of the most memorable and original films from the studios. Nothing short of impressive for the best animation film director that can always prove time and again that he still has so much he can tell through the medium.

As always, it makes for a fun entertaining film for children first and foremost, but also very much an enjoyable deeper experience for adults as well.

Porco Rosso is one of Miyazaki's rare films with a real well defined historical context and geographical setting behind it.

There are some political elements to the film. It's very much set in a troubled era, what with the threat of the second World War coming up at the time.

It's more than simply a cartoon with an animated pig.

Its principal theme is nostalgia. Our main character feels a lot nostalgia about his past life while his present seems to be slipping away from him. Longing for an era of adventures long gone.

The film romanticizes 1920s cinema and the entire early aviation culture, Miyazaki's own love for aviation history.

Here, this time, the fantastic is left to a minimum and in the background while history is in the forefront.

Porco Rosso's time frame marked the beginning of our modern world.

The film explores aviation and nostalgia, both of Miyazaki's favorite themes (nostalgia playing a larger bit in the overall history of the animation studio).

But Porco Rosso is also a great story on its own, full of action, romance and emotions.

The film employs a simple but effective lovely narrative and at the end of the day, it's such a fun story!

Perhaps made more relevant thanks to its more serious background setting lying beneath it.

Miyazaki was even able to throw in a little tribute to old 1920s Western cartoons (featuring a villainous pilot pig and some anthropomorphic cats and dogs to parallel our main storyline).

The mystery behind this veteran fighter pilot turned into a pig is left behind for the audience to ponder.

Once again, Joe Hisaishi composed the music for Miyazaki's film. It's probably the most epic score from the entire Ghibli library in my eyes. Such a fantastic captivating orchestral score, full of catchy tunes and ambitious cues. Adventurous, just like the film itself.

Overall, Porco Rosso is a fantastic tale of romance, adventure and a love letter to Miyazaki's own lifelong admiration for aviation.

It's such an epic film!

Highly recommended amongst the rest of the studio's films.

For years, Miyazaki has been wanting to make a Porco Rosso follow-up. Disney oblige (behind the international distribution), there's been a lot of incentive to make a sequel to one of his most beloved titles. As much as Hayao Miyazaki wanted to do so, I'm kind of glad he never got to do so (so far!). He was therefore able to give us plenty more new original feature films instead!

But more recently following his work on Ponyo, Miyazaki has been trying to make a Porco Rosso 2 a reality, with a tentative working title of "Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie ", it is apparently to be set during the Spanish Civil War, Porco Rossos himself would now be an older pilot, to also reflect Miyazaki's own older age. But the last rumors seem to have Arrietty's director Hiromasa Yonebayashi directing it. Not sure I'm 100% behind the idea, I would of course prefer they scrap this entire project to be honest..


I give it:
2.5 / 3 DonPatchis!

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