Showing posts with label Studio Ghibli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Studio Ghibli. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Review - Porco Rosso


Porco Rosso is a Japanese animated film, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki from Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki is a famous animator, known as the Japanese Walt Disney due to the height of his popularity in Japan. While he was more renowned in his home country, he finally made his name in Hollywood when he won an Oscar for his animated film Spirited Away, in 2002.

I have been a fan of the Studio Ghibli films after watching Princess Mononoke and long held a desire to watch some of the studio's earlier works from the 80s and 90s, but unfortunately these films were not released outside of Japan. However, the success of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away soon led to the Studio Ghibli back catalogue being slowly released on DVD in America, and eventually to the UK.

Porco Rosso was one of the films I had read about long before getting a chance to see it and the description and photos I had seen online definitely piqued my interest in this film. Porco Rosso is the story of a former Italian fighter pilot who has retired to the Adriatic Sea after World War One. He makes his living as a freelance bounty hunter and frequently clashes with the local air pirates. Oh, and I should point out, he's a pig. Literally, a pig!

At some point prior to the film's beginning, Porco was cursed and his once human features disappeared, and he became a talking pig. This embitters him somewhat, and his personality becomes that of a recluse, shunning company and depriving himself of a potential relationship with the local bar-owner, Gina. The story develops when a dashing American pilot arrives at the island and not only works with the pirates to rid themselves of this troublesome pig, but gradually becomes involved in a love triangle between him, Gina and Porco. The tension between the two pilots threatens to break out as their rivalry increases.


I loved this film, mainly due to the unique setting. There aren't many animated films set during the two World Wars in the Adriatic Sea, and there's a definite romantic mood to the story, which I really enjoyed. It's reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast in some ways, mixed in with a dash of Casablanca. The beauty of the film is that it works on two levels, it's entertaining enough for children to watch on a purely aesthetic level with the flying pig and air battles, but there's also a really strong and adult story behind it. Like the best animated films, it is made for both children and parents to enjoy together.

The film has a slow, gentle pace and there's no gore, violence or unsuitable scenes. It's actually quite laid-back, like its setting and spends the majority of the screen time, developing both the characters and the mood of the film, rather than fumble from action scene to action scene. That's not to say there's no action in the movie, the climatic scenes are particularly thrilling and you'll be hoping that this pig can fly...at least, better than a dashing American can.

I would recommend this to families who enjoy Disney films and want to try something similar, but with a different approach. There's no sing-along theme songs in this or goofy sidekick characters – it's a good film with a strong plot that just happens to be about an animated flying pig. To that end, people without young children can still enjoy this film and take something from it. It's a great introduction to the world of Studio Ghibli, which has nearly thirty years of back catalogue of strong, narrative-driven animated movies to discover.

This DVD includes the American voice-over edition, with Michael Keaton as Porco Rosso and Cary Elwes as Curtis. It also contains the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles if you prefer to view the movie, as intended. The American dub is pretty good, unlike some anime voice-overs and the characters both sound as you'd expect and the script hasn't been changed drastically. In terms of special features, there are some storyboards to view through the disc menus, an interview with the producer, Toshio Suzuki, and the Original Japanese trailer, which is interesting to watch after seeing the film, just to see how different their trailers are to ours.

The film is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from retailers, such as Amazon.co.uk.

Score - 9.1 out of 10

"Now I believe in Flying Pigs"


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