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If pigs could fly....,
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This review is from: Porco Rosso [DVD] (DVD)
As a recent convert to Ghibli films and someone with an interest in early aviation, this was a must-have DVD. Whilst films like "Totoro" are clearly aimed at kids, this film is an odd mixture. The opening sequence where the children are kidnapped by pirates is rather cutesy and there seems to be an obvious borrowing of the character Bluto from Popeye. However, the film then relocates to a bar at which point the references quickly change tact and this appears to be a re-imagining of "Casablanca" with our hero being a wise-cracking re-working of Humphrey Bogart complete with raincoat and cigarette. The arrival of a brash, American rival to challenge Porco Rosso also serves to raise the bar somewhat above a typical children's film and the film's conclusion certainly re-emphasizes this fact. There is also a moving scene where the planes of pilots killed in dogfights during World War One are seen ascending towards heaven which might not be suitable for younger children. As with all Ghibli films, the images are extremely striking, well drawn and full of vivid colours.
All in all, this is a very ambiguous film. As per usual with Ghibli, it is the girl engineer, Theo, who transpires to be the most favourable character and another woman, Gina, the most sympathetic. Children will probably not pick up on the references to an earlier generastion of Hollywood films and will simply enjoy the action sequences, especially whee the planes are involved. There is a lot of humour although some of the wisecracks seem at odds with an animation film and the scenes at the workshop where the new planes is designed and built are a highlight in this respect even if some parents may be scratching their heads at remarks about the size of the girl engineer's butt! The section of the film concludes with a hairy take-off sequence along a series of canals and is the highlight of the film for me.
Beautifully illustrated, this is not necessarily a film for children but the story is enjoyable even if there are scenes of fighting which probably are a bit more realistic than the usual Tom & Jerry type scrap. Older children will enjoy this as will adults but probably best avoided for the very youngest.