Rates: * * * * 1/2
Why Did I Watch It? I have been buying cheap fave movies on physical media, and this arrived in the post.
‘I’d much rather be a pig than a facist.’
From his secret island base in the Adriatic, seaplane flying ace Porco Rosso – a talking pig – does battle with gangs of pirates for control of the skies. As Porco thwarts their schemes time and again, the pirates turn to a cocky outsider, Curtiss (two s’s); an arrogant American with a suped up plane and a lot of ambition.
One of Miyazaki’s most underrated films is a charming low key character study, peppered with some lively aerial action. The setting, while a clearly stated time and place, has a dream like quality similar to the director’s more fanciful movies; apart from the Italian air force, I did not recognise the other flags and uniforms, and a lot of the action is centred on ‘Adriano’s’, an unlikely standalone hotel in the middle of the ocean.
To say nothing of our main character, and one of my favourite parts is that we never find out why Porco is a pig, or how this curse (assuming it is a curse) can be lifted; he appears in man-form twice, these scenes are not connected in an obvious way, his transformation from man to pig is not explained. Whatever happened, he is just how he is, and this makes him a natural iconoclast, who chafes against authority. Your classic old school anti-hero, replete with trenchcoat.
The plot, slight, centres around Porco tangling with Curtiss, sometimes in the air, and sometimes on the ground. They both want to prove who is the better pilot, and they both want to catch the eye of the film’s two female characters; Gina, proprieter of ‘Adriano’s’, and plucky young Fio, an aspiring mechanic in Porco’s corner. The climax is a lengthy dogfight between the two rivals, that leads to a punch up straight out of an old Loony Tunes cartoon.
And then… well, then, summer is over. And it is time for everyone to move on; Curtiss back to the states, Gina back to her bar, Fio to running her dad’s business. It’s like… ‘Casablanca’, and while that might seem ridiculous, I have seen this film ten times and this is what it makes me think about. The characters share an adventure, and then life pulls them apart, and they are all forced to move on, although they will always think of each other.
A lovely and bittersweet movie, like a classic from Hollywood’s golden age re-made by a genius in a parallel dimension.
Also: Gina is waiting in her garden. Did she lose her bet?