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Porco Rosso(Movie)

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Porco Rosso(Movie)

Postby Curt » October 5th, 2006, 9:13 pm

Review:
Porco Rosso is about a dashing flying ace pilot, an ex-air force officer turned gun for hire. Set in and around a kind of idyllic Mediterranean circa 1920's; this is a world of air pirates and bounty hunters with perfect blue skies, sparkling seas, sun-drenched beaches and rustic towns. Which all seems very appealing until you consider that Porco Rosso’s main protagonist is in fact a pig (well, a human with a pig’s head at least). A talking, walking, flying pig with a little curly moustache. And as if that weren’t enough, most of the other characters in Porco Rosso don’t even make mention of his unusual physical appearance. I mean, you’d assume he’d get at least a few funny glances walking down the street. Oh look, there’s a pig wearing a hat! The guy is pure circus material, yet apparently he’s nothing more than commonplace in the bizarre yet familiar world of Porco Rosso.

And once you’ve become accustomed to the unusual appearance of Porco Rosso’s titular hero, it’s really not such an alien concept. The film Opens with an introduction to Porco’s self-inflicted life of solitude, as he relaxes alone by the beach, waiting for the call to make use of his extraordinary piloting skills. After we’ve had the chance to spend a little time with our snout-nosed friend it becomes clear that he’s a very relaxed character, reserved yet obviously worldly-wise and well respected by those who know him as more than a flying oddity. The film does delve into his background a little, and explains he wasn’t always cursed with this unusual appearance, yet the focus quickly switches back to current developments as a new rival arrives on the scene. Curtis(Isnt that a predicament?), a boisterous and self-publicising American, who lets his presence known by shooting down Porco in the heat of battle.

Gracefully accepting defeat for the time being, Porco is forced to take cover as he heads for the city of Milan to rebuild his damaged plane. There he meets with an old friend who offers to house the antifascist pig, enlisting the aid of his capable young granddaughter Fio to work on his beloved plane in the meanwhile. In this world that Porco is contently familiar with, it takes the introduction of a spunky yet good-natured girl to reawaken his passion for flying. Soon he’ll be returning to the Adriatic with a renewed vigour to face his final showdown with Curtis, Fio close in tow.

In all honesty not a lot happens in Proco Rosso. Despite featuring a flying pig and plenty of bearded pirates, the story is largely uneventful. Such is the leisurely pace of the film that, if it were not for several well timed action sequences, Porco Rosso would never shift out of first gear. And even during the heat of battle, there’s an ever-present light hearted tone to the proceedings that really takes the edge away.

Much like Kiki’s Delivery Service, the main characters in Porco Rosso do not set out to accomplish any significant goals; they’re not here to rescue a princess, save their homeland or even escape a magical kingdom. Their motivations are much less obvious and wholly more routine, resulting in a film that lacks the thrust of previous Ghibli epics such as Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke and even Spirited Away.

All this might lead you to believe that Porco Rosso is a slow, uneventful film that lacks clear direction. And to a certain extent that would be true. Yet putting too much stock in such criticisms, valid though they are, would really be doing Proco Rosso a great injustice.

Porco Rosso’s story succeeds not because it’s well devised, original or even robust and comfortingly familiar. It succeeds because it’s so beautifully simple. It’s the very absence of shocking revelations and unexpected plot twists that helps to bring Porco Rosso’s laid-back and positively relaxing atmosphere to the fore. An atmosphere that perfectly suits the sparkling oceans, sun-drenched beaches and bright blue skies of Porco Rosso’s overtly romantic Mediterranean setting. It’s as though Miyazaki were trying to recapture the hazy memories of a perfect childhood vacation with sun, sea and a little adventure to boot.

There’s a subtlety to the characters that further accentuates this, due in part to their seemingly trivial motivations. The first part of the film is spent more-or-less exclusively in the presence of Porco, by which time we learn that he’s not exactly the typical Miyazaki hero (or more likely, heroine) figure. He’s not a despicable character by any means, he just appears to be a little distant, closing himself up to his even the closest of friends, and in turn the audience also. It takes the introduction of the young female mechanic Fio to open him up, as the two share a belated rapport; their conflicting personalities complimenting each other perfectly. Fio, a character much more in the typical Miyazaki heroine vain, fills the void that Porco Rosso was previously lacking. Not only does she reignite the passion in Porco’s heart, she revitalises the film and helps to give it a clear direction.

There are few secondary characters that really influence the film to any great degree, but it is worth noting the role that Porco’s nemesis, the American ace pilot Curtis plays. As with many other Miyazaki’s movies of the time, the villain of the piece is suitably pantomime in his over the top portrayal, providing not only a hate figure but also a good deal of comic aside. Without his welcome presence I doubt Porco Rosso would be quite so watchable.

Miyazaki thoroughly vents his fixation with biplanes of all shapes and sizes with Porco Rosso, and the results are undoubtedly every bit as mesmerising as he had hoped. Porco himself flies a beautiful bright red machine that soars through the sky with a majesty that belies its wooden construction. And when the beautifully clunky machine guns mounted atop his plane start rattling, Miyazaki proves that biplanes can make for an equally exciting spectacles as their jet powered counterparts despite the lack of speed and raw power. Miyazaki’s almost anal attention to detail pays off during the ariel dogfights, as every clunk of a lever and turn of the rudder really adds to the overall effect. He clearly loves these things, and yet far from boring us with his amusingly nerdy hobby, Miyazaki has realised such an innocuous device to its full potential.

Porco Rosso doesn’t boast the finest animation(1992 Film) Ghibli has provided since its inception, yet the quality of the artwork and the stunning vista of colours on offer more than makes up for any shortcomings. The backgrounds are beautifully realised and obviously draw inspiration from real-life locales (and probably scouted on location, the lucky bastards!), taking in many idyllic views from the sunny Mediterranean. It may be one of the few Miyazaki films to based roughly around real-world locations, yet it’s no less awe-inspiring than any of his more fantastical creations such as Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa.


Overall: Admittedly a quieter film such as this would never be to everyone’s taste, as those who liked Princess Mononoke may not necessarily fall for Porco Rosso’s less obvious charms so easily. Even so, it’s difficult to refute some of the film’s finer aspects that such talent as Ghibli and Miyazaki consistently provide. At worst it’s a decent way to complete your collection. At best it’s arguably one of the most distinctive, intriguing and hugely enjoyable Ghibli films available. Either way, give Porco Rosso a try.

Verdict 7.5/10(Porco Rosso’s presentation does not quite fall in line with the rest of Optimum’s Ghibli collection, and neither are the extras quite comparable to some of the more high-profile releases. Still, it’s a solid release and the lack of any particular Genre shouldn’t dissuade you from picking up an otherwise excellent release. If you enjoy anime with a nice comic relief, and some aspiring visuals; then give porco rosso an extra one, or two points.)

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Last edited by Curt on October 7th, 2006, 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sahar » October 7th, 2006, 10:54 am

Haha yayy Porco Rosso! I loved that movie =P
One of my favourite quotes was when some sea pilot (I think Curtis) went like 'I'll tell everyone you're a chicken!' and he's like 'Chicken, pig, what's the difference?' haha =P
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Postby sephraduncan » December 22nd, 2006, 6:40 pm

LOVED the movie, i got it for an early xmas gift and i was SOOOOOOO happy[/code]
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