Porco Rosso

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Porco Rosso
A male pig in a suit is flying with a woman next to him on his plane. To their right is the film's title and below them is a plane flying in the sky - and the film's credits.
Japanese release poster
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Produced by Toshio Suzuki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki
Based on Hikōtei Jidai 
by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring Shūichirō Moriyama
Tokiko Kato
Akemi Okamura
Akio Ōtsuka
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Cinematography Atsushi Okui
Edited by Takeshi Seyama
Production
company
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • July 18, 1992 (1992-07-18)
Running time 94 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget $9,200,000
Box office $34,100,000

Porco Rosso (Japanese: 紅の豚 Hepburn: Kurenai no Buta?, lit. Crimson Pig) is a 1992 Japanese animated adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is based on Hikōtei Jidai, a three-part watercolor manga by Miyazaki.[1] The film stars the voices of Shūichirō Moriyama, Tokiko Kato, Akemi Okamura and Akio Ōtsuka. Toshio Suzuki produced the film for Studio Ghibli. Joe Hisaishi composed the music.

The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing "air pirates" in the Adriatic Sea. However, an unusual curse has transformed him to an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot (Marco Rousolini in the American version), he is now known to the world as "Porco Rosso", Italian for "Red Pig".

Plot[edit]

The film, set in the Adriatic Sea in the interwar period, begins with the titular character Porco Rosso, a veteran WWI fighter ace and freelance bounty hunter, responding to an alert over an attack on a ferry liner by airborne pirates. Having successfully defeated the airborne pirates, the so-called Mamma Aiuto (Italian for "Mommy Help!") gang, Porco retires to the Hotel Adriano, which is run by his long-time friend Gina.

At the restaurant of the hotel, which is frequented by pilots all over the Adriatic, the heads of the pirate gangs are introduced to Curtis, an arrogant and ambitious American ace who has a contract to assist them. Within time Curtis falls in love with Gina but is frustrated to see that she has affection for Porco. After successfully executing a pirating mission, Curtis tracks down Porco, who is flying to Milan to have his plane improved, and shoots him down, claiming to have killed him. Porco actually survives, but all but the fuselage of his plane has been destroyed. Porco continues his mission to Milan, much to the irritation of Gina (in Italy he is a wanted criminal for deserting the air force).

Porco arrives discreetly in Milan to meet Piccolo, his mechanic. He is surprised to find that Piccolo's sons have emigrated to find work elsewhere, and much of the engineering is done by his granddaughter Fio. Porco is initially skeptical of Fio's abilities as a mechanic, but after seeing her dedication in the project to repair his plane he accepts her as a competent engineer, and begins to recognize her as a genius. With no males to assist in the project, Piccolo calls up an all-female team to repair the plane. When Porco's plane is finished, he is unexpectedly joined by Fio on his flight home, with the justification that if the secret police (who have been discreetly observing them) arrest the team, they can say that Porco forced them to help and took Fio as a hostage. Porco reluctantly agrees, and the two hurriedly leave Milan. Stopping off to refuel on the way, Porco discovers that the new Fascist government is beginning to hire seaplane pirates for their own use, thus putting him out of business.

Upon returning home, Porco and Fio are ambushed by the pirates, who threaten to kill Porco and destroy his plane. Fio successfully talks them out of it, but Curtis appears and challenges Porco to a final duel. Fio impulsively makes a deal with him declaring that if Porco wins, Curtis must pay off his debts owed the Piccolo's company, and if Curtis wins, he may marry her. Porco is irritated at Fio for making such a deal, but he forgives her and shows confidence in winning.

That night, at Fio's request Porco tells a story recalling an event in WWI, when he was still a human, where his entire squadron apart from himself was shot down in a dogfight with Austro-Hungarian aircraft. He recalls blacking out and awakening to find himself in complete stillness, with a white band hovering in the distant sky. Allied and enemy aircraft, flown by the airmen who died in the dogfight, fly past towards the band but ignore him. He sees his friend Berlini, Gina's then-husband, and calls him back but is ignored. Porco soon sees that the band is in fact thousands of planes flying together. He blacks out again and recovers skimming above the sea. When he awakes he discovers that he has been turned into a pig, and believes this to be a divine punishment for fleeing from the fight.[note 1]

The next day, the duel is arranged and a large crowd gathers on an island to observe. With the attendants betting heavily on the outcome, the contest begins. After an indecisive dogfight between Porco and Curtis, which soon dissolves into a bare fist boxing match, Gina appears to stop the fight and to warn the crowd that the Italian air force has been alerted and are on their way. Porco barely manages to win the fight upon her arrival, and hands Fio over to her, requesting Gina to look after her. Before the plane takes off, Fio gives Porco a kiss. With the crowd gone, Porco and Curtis agree to delay the air force together. When Curtis sees Porco's face he reacts with surprise, implying that he may have reverted to human form after Fio's kiss. Meanwhile, Fio becomes president of Piccolo, which is now an aircraft manufacturer, Curtis becomes a famous actor, the pirates continue to attend the Hotel Adriano.

Cast[edit]

Character Original cast Disney English dub cast
Porco Rosso Shūichirō Moriyama Michael Keaton
Donald Curtis Akio Ōtsuka Cary Elwes
Madame Gina Tokiko Kato Susan Egan
Mamma Aiuto Gang Boss Tsunehiko Kamijo Brad Garrett
Mr. Piccolo Sanshi Katsura David Ogden Stiers
Fio Piccolo Akemi Okamura Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Mamma Aiuto Gang Reizō Nomoto
Osamu Saka
Yuu Shimaka
Bill Fagerbakke
Kevin Michael Richardson
Frank Welker

Production[edit]

Fio and Porco

The film was originally planned as a short in-flight film for Japan Airlines based on Hayao Miyazaki's manga The Age of the Flying Boat, but grew into a feature-length film. The outbreak of war in Yugoslavia cast a shadow over production and prompted a more serious tone for the film, which had been set in Croatia. The airline remained a major investor in the film, and showed it as an in-flight film well before its theatrical release.[4] Due to this, the opening text introducing the film appears simultaneously in Japanese, Italian, Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, French and German.

History and politics[edit]

Porco Rosso is one of the few films directed by Hayao Miyazaki in which the historical and geographical settings are clearly defined and where most of the story could have happened in the real world. Marco is an Italian hero from the First World War and is shown fighting against Austro-Hungarian fighter planes in a flashback sequence. The story is set in the Adriatic Sea east coast between Dalmatian and Kvarner islands.

The story happens between the time of World War I and World War II. The scenes and the map in the film suggest the town depicted is Rijeka (also known as Fiume), while the main setting is based on Stiniva Beach, on the island of Vis (Issa). The story takes place during the fascist era; Italian guards are portrayed in military parades with typical fascist uniforms ("blackshirts"), albeit with different colors (black, blue and green). When Porco is buying ammunition from his favorite tool shop, the owner states that "government is changing again", which conceivably places the story in 1924, when Fiume was annexed by Italy under the terms of the Treaty of Rome. Italy, like many European countries, suffered severe economic hardship after the First World War and the economic crisis mentioned in the film is probably intended to be the European 1920s post-war depression rather than the global depression of the 1930s. However, the manga from which the film was derived specifically states the story is set in 1929, and in the opening sequence of the film Porco is reading a magazine bearing a 1929 date.

Porco makes statements of his being anti-fascist, quipping during one scene that "I'd much rather be a pig than a fascist".

Miyazaki shed light on the political context of the making of the film in an interview with Empire (film magazine). He reflects that the conflicts that broke out during the film's production (such as those in Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik, Croatia and the islands in which the story was based) made Porco Rosso into a more complicated and difficult film.[5]

Homage to early aviation[edit]

The fictional "Piccolo" aircraft company depicted in the film may be a reference to the Italian aircraft manufacturers Caproni and Piaggio.

The jet shown in the last scene is very similar in concept to the Caproni C-22J, an aircraft designed by Carlo Ferrarin, a designer for Caproni, whose name is notably used in the film for Marco's Air Force pilot friend. The Jet-amphibian is also reminiscent of the Fouga Zéphyr glider which tested the Mabore Turbofan prior to the development of the more famous Magister jet trainer, and shares with both of these aircraft the inclusion of a V-tail.

Additionally, the Caproni Ca.309 light reconnaissance aircraft is known under the name "Ghibli", the same name as Miyazaki's and Takahata's animation studio.

In the early 1930s, Italian seaplane designers set world speed records (such as the Macchi M.C.72 designed by the Italian airplane designer Mario Castoldi). One of the test pilots killed during the attempt to set the speed record was named Bellini, the name given to Porco's pilot friend in the film.

Marco Pagot, the name of the main character, is also a homage to the Pagot brothers, pioneers of Italian animation (Nino Pagot was the author of the first Italian animated feature film, The Dynamite Brothers, and his sons Marco and Gi Pagot were Miyazaki's collaborators in the production of Sherlock Hound).

Meanwhile, the character of Curtis is likely to have been named after the American aviation pioneer Glenn Hammond Curtiss who, along with the Wright Brothers, founded the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Curtis' airplane is a Curtiss R3C, which was built for the 1925 Schneider Cup race (which Porco refers to when he first meets Curtis). His character is also an oblique reference to Ronald Reagan, in that his ambitions lie not only in Hollywood, but also the Presidency. In the 1930s this would indeed have seemed remarkably ridiculous (hence Gina laughing off his ambition), though modern viewers will gain a satisfied grin from Curtis on this score. The rest of Curtis' character appears to come directly from the adventure film heroes portrayed by Errol Flynn at this time — indeed, they share a jaw line — including his buccaneering derring-do, willingness to fight, and overall demeanour combined with romantic ardour.

Soundtrack[edit]

Porco Rosso
Soundtrack album by Joe Hisaishi
Released 22 July 1992
Label Tokuma
  1. "The Wind of Time (When a Human Can Be a Human)" – 2:50
  2. "MAMMAIUTO" – 1:21
  3. "Addio!" – 0:37
  4. "The Bygone Days" – 2:16
  5. "A Sepia-Coloured Picture" – 0:47
  6. "Serbia March" – 1:03
  7. "Flying Boatmen" – 2:36
  8. "Doom (Cloud Trap)" – 1:23
  9. "Porco e Bella" – 1:06
  10. "Fio-Seventeen" – 2:04
  11. "The Women of Piccolo" – 2:04
  12. "Friend" – 3:04
  13. "Partnership" – 2:28
  14. "Madness (Flight)" – 2:39
  15. "To the Adriatic Sea" – 1:50
  16. "In Search of the Distant Era" – 2:18
  17. "Love at First Sight in the Wildness" – 1:11
  18. "At the End of Summer" – 1:26
  19. "Lost Spirit" – 4:11
  20. "Dog Fight" – 2:10
  21. "Porco e Bella (Ending)" – 2:35
  22. "The Time of Cherries" (sung by Tokiko Kato) – 2:52
  23. "Once in a While, Talk of the Old Days" (composition, lyrics, singing by Tokiko Kato, arrangement by Yoko Kanno, Junichiro Ohkuchi) – 3:56

Reception[edit]

Porco Rosso was the number one film on the Japanese market in 1992, earning ¥2.8 billion in distribution income.[6] It was selected as the "Prix du long métrage (Feature movie) at the 1993 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. It also made Time Out's top 50 animated movie list.[7] On Anime News Network (ANN) Porco Rosso, as of Dec 2010, has over 2,600 ratings, the average of which is 8.212 out of 10.

Sequel[edit]

In 2011 Miyazaki has proposed he wants to make a follow-up anime to the 1992 original film if his next few films following Ponyo are successful. The film's working name is currently Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie and will be set during the Spanish Civil War with Porco also returning, albeit this time as an old pilot, reflecting Miyazaki's own aging.[8] Miyazaki is writing the film, but Hiromasa Yonebayashi will direct.[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This aspect of the story has parallels to Roald Dahl's short story They Shall Not Grow Old.[2][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kurenai No Buta". www.bcdb.com, May 13, 2012
  2. ^ "Short Stories: "They Shall Not Grow Old"". RoaldDahlFans.com. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Porco Rosso". Barbican Centre. 
  4. ^ "Porco Rosso Review". Omohide. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Jolin, Dan (September 2009). "Miyazaki on Miyazaki". Empire (243): 119. 
  6. ^ "Kako haikyū shūnyū jōi sakuhin 1992-nen" (in Japanese). Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Time Out's 50 Greatest Animated Films – Part 3 with Time Out Film - Time Out London
  8. ^ Latest News - GhibliWiki
  9. ^ First sight: Hiromasa Yonebayashi | Film. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2014-05-12.

External links[edit]