Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Movie! ‘Porco Rosso’


The beauty of the sci-fi/fantasy genre is its ability to be flexible and cater to everyone’s tastes. There’s something there for everyone and if there isn’t then you can bet that there’s room to squeeze something new in.
The genre caters pretty well for what I’m into but every now and then I realise that there’s something missing that I really want more of…
One of my favourite things about the ‘Muppet Show’, when I was a child, was the weekly ‘Pigs in Space’ serial which pretty much did what the title said. Pigs flying through space, it doesn’t get much cooler than that! :o) Unfortunately though I’ve never seen anything since with flying pigs and this was a real shame. Until now that is… I watched ‘Porco Rosso’ last night and the ‘flying pig shaped hole’ in my genre viewing has been filled up in the best possible way!

Marco is a former World War One fighter pilot who turned his back on the Italian air force to pursue a career as a bounty hunter fighting seaplane pirates in the Adriatic Sea. He’s also a pig, not just in the way that he treats women; a curse has been placed on him that has turned him into a pig. We don’t get to find out why he has been cursed (although he drops hints here and there); we just get to see the Red Pig fly loops around seaplane pirates, pursue a deadly rivalry with an American pirate and tread carefully around the edge of romance with at least two women…

‘Porco Rosso’ is one of those films that had me laughing out loud one minute and then feeling sad five minutes later. Marco seems to be resigned to life as a pig (sometimes preferring it to the alternative) but this doesn’t stop him from being very much the outsider and he even uses it to put a shield up between himself and those who care about him. This leads to some very poignant moments where you get a sense of what Marco could have but chooses not to.
There’s also a very strong political undercurrent to this film with the rise of Fascism in Italy making things very difficult for Marco to get by. In a sense he had brought this upon himself by deserting but the sense of oppression builds up very nicely, throughout the film, and by the end you can see clearly how it has found its way into every aspect of life.



Above all though ‘Porco Rosso’ is a very entertaining film that had me hooked right from the moment Marco leaps into his plane and rescues a group of schoolgirls from seaplane pirates (although it looked at times as if it was the pirates who needed rescuing). Not only is there plenty going on (interspersed with bursts of humour that had me chuckling) but there is plenty to see with beautifully drawn aeroplane dog-fights and face offs between Marco, various pirates and the Italian Secret Police. I didn’t think so at the time but, looking back, I can really appreciate how the ending is so understated. In a sense the ending doesn’t matter, what actually happened is what’s important.

‘Porco Rosso’ is one of those films where I found myself really glad that I took the time to give it a go. If you’re a fan of director Hayao Miyazaki then you really should give this a go if you haven’t already…

5 comments:

Michael said...

I totally agree with your review...I'm just surprized that you just discovered this gem...one of my favorite Miyazakis...the other really good ones (besides Mononoke and Shihiro that everyone knows) are Nausicaa, Laputa or Lupin III. You should also definitly watch Isao Takahata's movies (also from Ghibli). The funiest one is Pompoko (shape changing racoons - how cool is that) and the sadest one is Grave of the Fireflies. One last advice if you like good animes : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808506/
Cheers

ThRiNiDiR said...

I'm downl...*cough*cough*...ordering this movie right now; flying pigs? you're right, it doesn't get cooler than that :)

Graeme Flory said...

Thrinidir - Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :o)

Michael - Funnily enough, my wife saw the trailer for Pompoko and has decided that we have to watch it! I've also got my eye on Laputa...

The Fantasizer said...

Hey Graeme I just watched Howl's Moving Castle after stumbling upon a review from yourself and man am I glad i found this director Miyazaki. His anime is really great I am official on Miyazaki spree, I watched Howl's Moving Castle then spirited away, and Porco Rosso all such great anime. These are movies with soul, the director's a genius.
You really should do more of movie reviews for the benefit of people like your's truly.
Don't really know how this comment thing works though if you're gonna get to read it or not.

Graeme Flory said...

I get email notifications everytime someone leaves a comment. Even if you hadn't told me I'd have found your post ;o)

Glad you liked the review, I don't watch an awful lot of movies but what I do watch will get talked about here!