March 11, 2005

Porco Rosso, by Hayao Miyazaki

Ian Hamet has been raving about this movie for as long as I've known him, so when it was re-released here in the states I was quick to grab a copy. And I'm pleased to say that I was not disappointed, for it is indeed a truly charming movie. My favorite Miyazaki to date is still Spirited Away; but then, Porco Rosso is a different kind of movie altogether, and it doesn't seem like it should be rated on the same scale.

Porco Rosso is a tale of a brave and skillful seaplane pilot who lives on an island in the Adriatic sea in the time between the world wars, when Italy was sliding into fascism. He makes his money as a bounty hunter; the Adriatic, evidently, is home to scads of air pirates (Miyazaki has a thing for air pirates), all of whom fly various interesting kinds of seaplanes and prey on the local shipping. It's Porco's job to find them, stop them, retrieve their booty and free their hostages--and, of course, to get paid for it.

The odd thing about Porco is that he has the face and ears of a pig. He wasn't born that way; he's evidently under some kind of curse. But it makes him an outsider, and allows him to speak harsh truths others don't want to recognize. They call him on it, of course; they say to him, "Porco, you really are a pig!"

I don't want to say too much about the plot for fear of spoiling it. But there are cute little girls, and ugly poorly-washed air pirates (and an interesting mixture they make, I might add), and a pretty girl and a beautiful woman and lots and lots of planes and flying scenes and dog fights and a rivalry and an adolescent crush and serious aeronautical engineering--and, I think, something like redemption. If I'm reading it right (and Ian will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong), Porco Rosso isn't a fantasy at all, despite its snouted hero. Rather, it's an excursion into the world of magic realism.

As for the animation, it's simply stunning throughout. I don't have words to describe how beautiful it was--or how funny. It's not a comedy as such, but I think I must have had a dopey grin on my face the whole time I watched it. My favorite funny bit is when all of the air pirates try to get their picture taken with the lovely young Fio. It's just a moment, there and gone, but it's perfectly done.

I watched it with the new English soundtrack, which I thought was very well done. Disney once again made some surprising choices for voice actors that nevertheless worked out perfectly--even if you'd never guess who they were until the credits scrolled by.

Anyway, Porco Rosso is in the stores now. You should find a copy and settle in with some popcorn.

Don't forget the popcorn; it's very important. I didn't get to have any, since I'm on a strict low-carb diet, and I really think you should eat some for me. Thank you.

Posted by Will Duquette at March 11, 2005 09:18 PM