In 1930s Italy, a veteran World War I pilot is cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.In 1930s Italy, a veteran World War I pilot is cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.In 1930s Italy, a veteran World War I pilot is cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.
As usual for any great film from this director, the characters are what make the experience truly worthwhile. While Marco "Porco" is indeed a carefree womanizing antihero who's more focused on his own doings, he still comes off as likable and sympathetic given his subtly noble morality and intimidating charm. Not to mention, there's a bittersweet romance between him and his sweetheart Gina, as it's expressed through refinement and emotional history, which in turn gives hidden depth to these two minds who think differently. Fio, the one who helps out with his plane, is very cute and bubbly in personality, but is also quite smart and can even show moments of spunk when it comes to the crazy situations she and Porco end up in. One could argue that part of the reason is that she's in love with him, but I think their chemistry is more amusing than impassioned, so it comes down to our own points of view.
The other characters consist of the ones opposed to Porco like Donald Curtiss and the Mama Auito gang, and the ones who support him like Mr. Picolo and family, and both sides are memorable in their own regard. Donald is the pompous albeit ambitious snark who's in to vanquish Porco to win over Gina's heart, but it's proven through his airfights that he's no better by intellectual motivation. The air pirate gang on the other hand are more hellbent on getting rid of the pig pilot, but their banter between Porco and Fio really make them conflict with their positions, presenting them as more than just merciless criminals. Oh yeah, and Picolo and his entire family are like every other humorous contributing cast of witty caricatures that help liven up the experience even more. Whichever character comes on, you know you're in for a treat.
As this is a movie partially about air pilots duking it out with one another, the thrills are really fun to watch. The dogfights are entertainingly action packed and fantastically choreographed, showcasing Miyazaki's personal passion towards airplanes. Many of the scenes involving Porco flying in the sky or escaping from the police are quite suspenseful and there's never a dull moment that goes on during those stakes. Speaking of Porco escaping from the police, probably the most poignant aspect of the film has to be the commentary on what it means to serve in the airfare under government decision. We see throughout the film just how much Marco's time during WWI affected him personally, and the implements of fascism spreading throughout Europe really give the film the proper balance between fast paced comedy and romanticized drama.
With all of that said, both of those tones ultimately culminate into one beautiful piece of filmmaking. As weird of a basic concept as it may seem, Porco Rosso remains a charming, funny and all around exciting thrill ride that never fails in keeping its viewers glued to the screen. It's actually one of the least talked about films from the acclaimed Japanese director and Studio Ghibli itself, so I think it deserves even more love and attention if you're a fan of both. Sometimes, you don't need heavy themes of nature and prosperity over violence and corruption or even an epic fantasy tale told through exuberant artistry and illustrations. All you need is an action-packed adventurous flick that will put a smile on anyone's face from the experience alone.
- Nov 11, 2018