Friday, May 23, 2008

It Came From Forgotten Filmography Friday 10

Porco Rosso (Kureni no buta) (dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 1992)
Studio Ghibli
Tagline (well, not really, but I like it): “I’d rather be a pig than a fascist”
Synopsis: 1930s aerial ace cursed to be a humanoid pig finds his humanity as he battles a swaggering American pilot hired to defeat him. Or, as the anonymous imbd synopis reads: “In Early 1930's era Italy, air pirates, bounty hunters and high flyers of all sorts rule the skies. The most cunning and skilled of these pilots is Porco Rosso, a man cursed with the head of a pig after watching the spirits of the pilots killed in the last air battle he fought in rise to the heavens. He now makes a living taking jobs, such as rescuing those kidnapped by air pirates. Donald Curtis, Porco's rival in the air and in catching the affections of women, provides a constant challenge to the hero, culminating in a hilarious, action packed finale.”

I guess this is my attempt to make up for Three Pigs and a Baby. I had heard of Porco Rosso prior to renting it, but I assumed it’s under almost everybody else’s radar, thus its forgotten title. Sort of a cop-out, yes. Wait till next week's.

For those who’ve never heard of him, Hayao Miyazaki was (since he retired, although he still keeps working,) probably the greatest force in animation since Walt Disney. His Studio Ghibli has produced films like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away. If you’re not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and rent everything he’s ever made, even if you hate animation, or just Japanese animation (or especially so in those cases.) Miyazaki’s work touches an emotional core few other filmmakers in general can, although in animation Disney did, and the folks at Pixar are doing an admirable job here stateside (John Lasseter also oversaw the Mouse’s American distribution of Ghibli’s films, so they must be fans.)


Porco Rosso is set in the 1930s Adriatic, where seaplanes and sky-pirates rule. Porco Rosso is the best amongst them, a bounty hunter cursed with a pig-like physique and wanted by the Italians for not flying for Il Dulce. He is bested by an American pilot, who also has an eye for the various women in Porco’s life. After getting his plane fixed, he finds himself in continued conflict with the various skypirates.

I couldn’t find any caps of the scene where Porco is cursed, watching the planes ascend into the white sky of heaven. But, it was one of the most beautiful and genuinely heartbreaking scenes in animation.

The Disney dub is pretty good, with some somewhat major names contributing their talents (Michael Keaton does the voice for Porco, and Cary Elwes his American rival.) I would recommend you go out and see this movie, it’s become one of my new favorites.

Porco Rosso approves. A.

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