CHECK : Porco Rosso (1992)

I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.

Anime

In 1992, Studio Ghibli released Porco Rosso. In some ways, Hayao Miyazaki’s historical fantasy is more subdued than his previous efforts, but it still retains a sense of magic in the world. The film has a unique tone that balances slapstick comedy with serious topics. Miyazaki even remarked that it was silly to make this film because it was an adult film for children. I never saw Porco Rosso, so I have no nostalgia or expectations for this film. Let’s see.

Porco Rosso (Michael Keaton) is a seaplane pilot who flies for money, not honor. A mysterious curse has turned the former World War I fighter pilot into a pig, driving him to work as a world-class bounty hunter. When American pilot Donald Curtis (Cary Elwes) arrives in the Adriatic Islands, he makes a deal with the local pirates to get Porco out of the air. He succeeds, but Porco survives and goes to Mulan to fix his plane, much to the chagrin of his singer-restorer girlfriend, Gina (Susan Egan). The Italian secret police have sent him to Porco, and he’s not sure he can make it home, but his repairman Piccolo (David Ogden Styers) and granddaughter Fio (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) offer him shelter and work on his plane nonetheless. When the secret police discover where Porco is hiding, he is forced to return with Fio to the Adriatic to continue repairs. Upon their arrival, Porco and Fio are found by pirates bent on revenge. Curtis stands up from guard and challenges Porco. If Porco wins, Curtis will pay all the repair bills, but if Curtis wins, Fio has to marry him.

With Porco Rosso, we immediately got the feeling that Miyazaki wanted to make a film for adults, intended for children. There’s a lot of physical comedy with Curtis and the pirates, which gives the scenes a light-hearted, carefree feel. In contrast, the scenes with Porco and Gina, Fio or even his former military comrade look like a completely different film. I have no problem with that, I get bored with movies that evoke the same emotions throughout the movie. For example, I generally don’t like thrillers because they tend to build suspense all the time. I’m not saying it’s bad or that it can’t work, it’s just personal taste. I love that Porco Rosso has a dynamic tone and mood, as it always draws me into the action. Of course, I find the political intrigues of the time and Porco’s personal struggles more interesting than the antics of the pirates. But the presence of comedy keeps the film moving and never lets the plot stagnate.

I also love the characters in Porco Rosso, especially Porco himself. He gets along well with all the other characters in the film, and I love his story. The scene where he tells Fio about his experience flying in the clouds is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Keaton’s direct speech is the right mix of nostalgia and bitterness, and it’s a visually stunning scene. I like that although Porco is cursed to look like a pig, the film doesn’t focus on the curse or how to lift it. Instead, he shows how different he is from the pig with his heroism and defends Fio. I really like Gina, too. She gets some of my favorite lines, like explaining to Curtis why love in Europe is more complicated than he thinks as an American. His monologue in Porco about dead pilot husbands is also impressive. I like how this is later related to his insistence on not returning to Italy for fear of death. The dialogue between Gina and Porco is excellent, and I really like the way the film shows their relationship. Gina’s voice will be played by Susan Egan, who played Meg in Hercules and Belle in the original Disney Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. She is a phenomenal actress and knows how to evoke emotion with her voice. I wish she had worked more with her voice. Cary Elwes brings a lot of humor to the film as Curtis, and his American accent is funny and convincing, if a bit clichéd. Pirates also has some impressive credits, with actors like Brad Garrett and Bill Fagerbacke.

The original score for Porco Rosso was written by Joe Hisaishi, and it’s beautiful. This is the kind of music you can listen to in the background to relax. The film is also animated in great detail, and the sets are particularly beautiful. I love the contrast between the subtle animation of Gina and Porco’s characters and the more bombastic expressions of the pirates. Visually, Porco and Fio on a plane are among my favorite moments and every time the camera lingers on the buildings. The houses, other buildings and especially Gina’s pavilion are incredibly beautiful.

I don’t think I talk about film editing very often, mainly because it’s not visible in most films. But that’s not always the case, and Porco Rosso is very well put together. The scene in the movie with Porco’s friend comes to mind, as does the clip where Porco says to Gina: Admit it, I’m a pig. Both scenes combine memorable dialogue with striking cuts that hold your attention. It may be an odd comparison, but the last time I was impressed by the use of cinematic editing was Infinity War. When a dramatic or comedic passage occurs, and I make a cut in my head and the scene actually changes, it gives me a strange sense of accomplishment.

I’ve never seen Porco Rosso, but I have to say I’m impressed. This film has an unusual concept, an unconventional protagonist, and I didn’t know what to expect. From the casting to the editing, every aspect of this film amazed me. The only reason Porco Rosso isn’t a solid 10/10 for me is because Studio Ghibli has made films that I think are even better. And you know what? It’s amazing.

Location – 9
Action – 8
Management/publishing – 9
Production design – 10
Action – 9

9

Large

I’ve never seen Porco Rosso, but I have to say I’m impressed. This film has an unusual concept, an unconventional protagonist, and I didn’t know what to expect. From the casting to the editing, every aspect of this film amazed me. The only reason Porco Rosso isn’t a solid 10/10 for me is because Studio Ghibli has made films that I think are even better. And you know what? It’s amazing.

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