A man turned into a pig sails the skies of the Adriatic Sea looking out for air pirates stealing from cruises ships. When Porco Rosso, the famous Italian pig and World War 1 was veteran stumbles into a trap set by the pirates he fights and their highly paid American pilot, he loses his plane and a bit of himself. Fio Piccolo, the granddaughter of his mechanic in Milan rebuilds Porco Rosso’s plane, giving him an opportunity to redeem himself. Will he take the bait?
Porco Rosso is one of the classic film by Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki combines many of his recurrent themes into a whole movie. Miyazaki is feminists, a lover of the sky, and very reflexive. Porco Rosso is the cartoon stand in for Miyazaki where allegorically, he asks himself where he has gone with his life and is it worth continuing with renewed energy or just let the waves carry him.
Life has passed him by several times as the woman he has always loved kept choosing other pilots over him. He is the last of the men, he and Madame Gina knew. But now he is a humanized pig who withdraws from the duties and the affairs of men. Still wanted by the Fascist Italian police, Porco Rosso takes a big chance to go to Milan to get his plane repaired. This is where Miyazaki pulls out his feminist credentials by populating Piccolo’s shop with women. Fio Piccolo is the embodiment of the feminism Miyazaki adheres to. She is equally as strong and as competent as any other engineer. Her work ethics are better than her grandfather’s.
When non-animation fans watch Porco Rosso, they are always surprised that such a movie exists and provides them with such enjoyment. They often expect much less from the film and this is why it usually breaks their misconceptions about animation. The quality of the animation, the colours, and the backgrounds are impressive. They help create the relaxed mood that allows one to slip into Porco Rosso.
There are very few extras on the disc, which is unfortunate for the re-release of such a well-regarded film. It lacks the context that could help explain Porto Rosso to a new generation of viewers. However, there is one bonus that is worth mentioning. As this Blu-Ray set is a North American release, the French track is included for Canadians. Miyazaki himself has commented on how actor Jean Reno who plays Porco Rosso in French was the best casting choice for the character. Reno who is fluent in English and known in North America was passed in favour of Michael Keaton for the English-speaking dub. Keaton’s acting is good, but Reno had gravitas. If you care to listen to the French dub, you will enjoy Reno as Rosso!
Original Japanese Storyboards, Original Japanese Trailer, Interview with Toshio Suzuki, Behind the Microphone