Perhaps overshadowed by other films in Hayao Miyazaki’s filmography, Porco Rosso (紅の豚) is no less than another magical, high-flying adventure that exemplifies the veteran filmmaker’s talent.
Porco Rosso tells the story of an Italian former World War I flying ace who somehow assumes the face of a pig while now living as a freelance bounty hunter.
The film plays out like a classic Hollywood romance. The title character, formerly known as Marco, is a charismatic, dashing and debonair leading man. A former ace in the military, but now a jaded and disillusioned man-pig that spends his days on a secluded, secret beach when not chasing air pirates in the Adriatic Sea.
There are mutual romantic feelings with friend Gina, the beautiful, classy hotel owner who hopes one day Porco will be able to set foot on her property. And then there’s Fio, an energetic and talented 17-year-old engineer who becomes intrigued by this fascinating man so much she accompanies him on a mission.
The blending of real-world history and politics with plenty of lighthearted banter and comedy harkens back to sprawling Hollywood epics that would serve as starring vehicles for the biggest stars of the day.
Porco Rosso takes on some slice of life realism sprinkled with some Miyazaki magic. The idyllic adventure of a simpler time is nostalgic in the best way possible.
Released in 1992, the film’s animation contributes to that sense of nostalgia in a way that modern animated films cannot. Stunning scenes of exciting air battles are paired with relatively calmer, (literally) down to earth scenes. The level of emotional connection the film is able to deliver with its animation is just miles away from the sometimes lifeless computer-generated images common today.
Porco Rosso benefits from its excellent title character, perhaps one of the very best from Miyazaki. That mix of hero and bad boy with a heart really sweeps you off your feet as much as Porco does to everyone else in the film.
Porco Rosso is an excellent film that is fun, romantic (in many ways) and exciting. And it is a must-watch for any fan of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.