Amid the rolling seas of the Adriatic, Porco Rosso lives a
solitary life. Spending his time rescuing schoolgirls from
aerial pirates, his heroism and courage are never in question.
Problem is Porco has the head and face of a pig. If that wasn't
a big enough hindrance, Porco's life becomes more complicated
when he beats a pirate called Boss. Boss, not one for letting
people get away with this sort of thing, hires an American
flyer called Curtis to wipe Porco from the skies...
Rosso is another great animated film directed by Hayao
Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli, an anime studio that has often
been called the Japanese Disney. Faint praise I feel as even
the worst of studio Ghibli stands up to the best of Disney
and overall their films are a lot better than some of the
old tosh that Disney puts out. Little wonder then that, as
Disney tries to recover from a string of pedestrian films,
they have opted to act as the distributor for Miyazaki's film,
let's hope that they do more than attach their name to the
films and spend some time drawing a little inspiration.
Porco Rosso was originally titled Kurenai no Buta,
meaning the crimson pig, but was changed to Porco Rosso
which is Italian for Red Pig. Released in 1992, Porco
follows a near perfect string of family orientated films included
the award winning Spirited
and the more recent Howl's Moving Castle. To a certain
extent you could make a case for this being the most accessible
of Miyazaki's films, for an English speaking audience, as
the background is provided by mid-war Europe rather than Japan,
where most of his films are set. That said, it shouldn't put
you off watching any of his or Ghibli's excellent output.
In 2003 Disney prepared a new English dub with Michael Keaton,
well known Batman and a pretty good comic actor, instead of
the original voice actor Shuichiro Moriyama, providing the
voice of the eponymous Porco. Madam Gina, love interest of
Porco and his rival American pilot Curtis, was voiced by Susan
Egan, who also lent her vocal talents as Lin in Spirited
Away. Curtis is bizarrely played by the English actor
Cary Elwes and if that name doesn't bring instant recognition
from you, he stared in both The Princess Bride and
Mel Brooks's Robin Hood, Men in Tights.
Garretplays the Bluto like bad guy Boss. A successful stand
up comic and a well known face on American television Garret
has provided his vocal talents to such films as A Bugs
Life and appeared in person in many films. Completing
the list of major characters is Kimberly Williams, who plays
Fio Porco's sidekick and mechanic, probably best known for
her roles in, the Steve Martin film, Father of the Bride
and The 10th Kingdom mini series. Nearly forgot to
mention David Ogden Stiers, the guy who played the idiotic
Major Charles Winchester in Mash and is a well known
actor on television. He provides the voice of Mr Piccolo,
not an extensive part, but I think it bares witness to how
much they wanted this film to succeed by the amount of talent
that Disney threw at it.
what of the film? Well in three short words it's a delight.
Keaton brings a sad sort of gravitas to the role of a man
who so despaired of humanity that he relinquishes his own.
His life of self imposed isolation is broken only by his fighting
the pirates, a possible act of redemption for his part in
the war. Change is precipitated by the introduction of two
new characters in his life, Curtis and Fio.
Curtis is initially introduced as a nemesis for Porco, this
is not the role that he eventually fulfils. Porco having given
up his humanity has also given up his right to love, although
Gina has loved Porco for many years he neither acknowledges
it nor even entertains its possibility. It is only during
his fight with Curtis, when Curtis tells Porco that Gina is
in love with him, that Porco reacts at all. And here we have
the crux of the film - that love is the only thing that can
set you free from the horrors of war. Gina provides the love
that Porco could have if only he could see it. Fio plays a
similar role, as a young woman she comes to care for Porco
very much and as her affection for him deepens she is able
to catch glimpses of his true face.
is through Fio that the audience is led to understand that
Porco can be redeemed if only he is willing to let go of the
past. Porco's growing affection for her allows him to unconsciously
drop the physical barriers with which he has surrounded himself,
through his appreciation of her innocent beauty, courage and
lust for life, his period of self-isolation begins to erode.
It's the perfect metaphor for the barriers that we put up
against the ugliness of the world that can only be brought
down by the innocence inherent in childhood.
the disc, audio is presented in stereo English with or without
captions for the hard of hearing and the original Japanese
stereo, both of which are worth listening to. On the extras
side we have the original trailers for the film as well as
the Studio Ghibli trailers, plus a nice informative interview
with the Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki. Lastly, for
fans of animation everywhere, they have provided the storyboards
for the whole film. Most films will give you a number of storyboards,
but this film can be played the whole length through as storyboards,
or you can flick between the two - a nice interesting extra.
there you have it another good night in. It's a great film
for fans of animation, and anime, and a great family night
in with the kids. There is action enough for even the most
jaded child and a depth of story to engage the most discerning