Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Porco Rosso

Debuting in theatres on July 18th, 1992, Porco Rosso follows a former WWI pilot as he fights for his country, his freedom, and his lover against pirates, foreigners, and the government. originally, the film was conceived as a short in-flight film for Japan Airlines, based on Miyazaki's manga The Age of the Flying Boat (Hikōtei Jidai). over time, however, it grew into a feature-length film, with Japan Airlines remaining a major investor and showing the film in-flight long before its official release. (This is why the opening title card appears in Japanese, Italian, Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, French and German.)

Girls, this is not a field trip!
Marco Russo, aka Porco Rosso, is a bounty hunter and former Italian WWI pilot in the Adriatic region of Europe. he is a fugitive from the Italian government in the late 1920's, during which time the Italians had turned Fascist and wanted to capture Marco for deserting the army after the war. Marco leads a free, transient lifestyle on a deserted island with his distinctive red biplane. eventually joining him in his exploits is Fio, the granddaughter of his friend and favourite engineer.

Hey now, just because they're ladies doesn't mean they won't do great work!
Perhaps it is just my love affair with everything from that era, but this movie was just a delight to me. the visuals are standard, top-notch Ghibli output, showcasing Miyazaki's adoration of old-style aircraft. and it's not limited to just Marco's plane, either, there are tons of different aircraft on display. with the flashbacks included, it shows at least 20 years' worth of planes in various colours and styles. combine that with the glistening gem known as the Adriatic Sea and its surrounding islands, and you have a love letter to a time and place long gone all wrapped up in a romanticized watercolour package. there's added fun in looking at not just the style of the planes, but the colour, as well, since Marco's not the only one with an unusually-coloured flyer.

Be prepared for plenty of striking visuals.
Equally important is the soundtrack. composed by the masterful Joe Hisaishi, it has a cozy, old-style feel, taking you back to the era of smoky lounges, cabaret singers and classic cocktails. the big-band jazz and lilting melodies of the piano give a smooth, relaxing aura to the movie, making you as at home on the skies as Marco is. you can almost sense the longing of the characters and of the era through the songs. it evokes a sort of lonely yearning that is at once bittersweet and comforting.

I didn't know Fiat could actually be, well, badass.

The dub's choice of voice actors was spot-on, though Marco was at times a little hard to hear. I suppose that comes with the "gruff, hardened noir hero" territory, but all the same, the volume tends to fluctuate a little wildly. otherwise, though, everyone and everything was perfect as usual. Fio was bright and cheery (reminded me a little of Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service, actually), Gina was at once sultry and in command, and the pirates (and the foreigner) were comedic, friendly, and filled to the brim with bravado, as they should be.

Hey, I didn't know we were in Cuba.

Porco Rosso is available from Disney in North America, and Madman Entertainment in Australia. i'm willing to bet a simple google search could scare up some torrents in any manner of languages. there is some gunfire, some fighting, and i'm pretty sure someone calls someone a bastard once or twice, so i'd recommend this for kids 10+ (since they might at least know not to repeat the words heard in the heat of the moment, ha ha).
Count on Ghibli Motors to Get You There!


1 comment:

  1. oh boy, I forgot to mention this! Ghibli is planning a sequel to Porco Rosso in the coming years! Miyazaki reported that if the films following Ponyo are successful, Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie will become a reality! so make sure to watch and buy up those Ghibli films, people, so they'll know how much we want it!