Customer Review

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece from the magical Studio Ghibli., 14 Feb 2006
This review is from: Porco Rosso [DVD] (DVD)
Porco Rosso is a film that I have fond memories of, having first seen it during the early half of the mid-nineties as part of a Sky Movies double alongside Miyazaki's more acknowledged early masterpiece My Neighbour Totoro. Totoro is a fantastic film, one that can be enjoyed by an audience of any age, but it is the sublime Porco Rosso that always had the greater resonance for me, and as a result, is the film that I have returned to again and again over the course of the last decade.
The story is more complicated than some of Miyazaki's previous (or indeed, later) works, with the narrative unfolding around our titular central character, an Italian First World War fighter pilot (literally) cursed with the features of a pig, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing "air pirates" in the Adriatic Sea!! The reason why Porco has been cursed is never fully explained, with Miyazaki leaving only the vaguest suggestion of clues and hints before getting on with the more serious story at hand. Here, unlike great films such as Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Miyazaki takes a story that is rooted in a recognisable historical period, choosing to focus on the era between the first and second world wars, the rise of Fascism and the great depression (which is here referenced on separate occasions). Added to this, we also have notions of romance (with Porco's relationship with hotel/club owner Gina perhaps offering a sense of redemption), the central adventure story involving Porco and the "air pirates", as well as feuds and rivalries (chiefly between Porco and the chauvinistic American pilot Curtis) and even a father/mentor type relationship to be found between Porco and his young aide Fio.
The film moves along at a great pace, offering moments of jaw-dropping action/animation and some wonderfully rendered character interaction. As with all the films from the Studio Ghibli production house, the animation here is staggering throughout, with Miyazaki demonstrating an intuitive grasp of how to capture, not only the dizzying scenes of action and mid-air acrobatics, but also the dramatic scenes too. The colours are strong and capture the feeling of time and the essence of the place and period, whilst the overall attention to character depth and detail goes great lengths towards cementing the backdrop of the story and also the believability of the characters. Like the most recent Miyazaki/Ghibli production, Howl's Moving Castle, Porco Rosso is a film that will appeal to children, but will also offer deeper themes that can be enjoyed and appreciated by adults and adolescents. The historical and political aspects for example are well handled, offering a further arc to the main story, without getting in the way of the action or the characters.
In this respect, Porco Rosso could very easily be considered a perfect film (for me at least), with several of the plot strands (amongst them the delicate romance between Porco and Gina, which seems positively pregnant with a subtle sense of sadness, as well as the different relationships that Porco has with Fio and Curtis) reaching a real emotional peak, whilst even managing to remain in my thoughts for the best part of a decade!! The film might lack an obvious sense of closure, leaving many aspects of Porco's past-life completely vague, but for me, this simply created a sense of mystique and a reason to see the film again!!! Porco Rosso is a magical film, and alongside works like My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, is a masterpiece from the always magnificent Studio Ghibli.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Aug 2009 15:45:35 BDT
N. Rogall says:
Couldn't agree more. An astonishing film

Posted on 6 Feb 2011 07:57:10 GMT
RJL says:
So many of the themes, scenes and situations of Porco Rosso seem to paraphrase ideas from the films of Howard Hawks (and not only from "- only Angels have Wings," which also is about fliers) that it feels like a tribute to Hawks, or almost like a pastiche of his films. Is Miyazaki a Hawks fan?
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