‘Porco Rosso‘ is a 1992 anime Studio Ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who also wrote the screenplay. He based it on his manga Hikōtei Jidai (“The Age of the Flying Boat”).
In 1930s Adriatic Sea, Marco “Porco” Russo (Michael Keaton) is an ace-pilot who defected from the Italian Air Force after Mussolini’s regime took over. He is cursed to have his face look like a pig, but he gets by okay. He now serves as a pilot rescuing ships from air-pilots, developing a rivalry with Capo (Brad Garrett), the leader of a gang. While visiting his friend Madame Gina (Susan Egan), who secretly loves him, he learns that the air-pirates hired American pilot Donald Curtis (Cary Elwes) to shoot him down. Curtis catches Porco as his engine stalls and he succeeds in shooting Russo down. Porco sneaks into Italy, despite being wanted, where his old friend Mr. Piccolo (David Ogden Stiers) and his granddaughter Mia (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) work to fix his plane. Porco intends to return to Adriatic Sea and reclaim his position as the top flying ace.
Originally, Miyazaki wanted this to be a short film to play for Japanese airlines, but once he and his fellow Studio Ghibli staff began production, they knew they had something. As such, it became an entry in their very accomplished filmography. It was definitely the right choice.
The story is one of a man who is cursed, but has accepted his position in life and turns to the freedom of the skies in order to experience the liberty that he so desires. It captures that desire for a man to live free and to maintain their legacy. It certainly captures and pulls you into the tale, making you root for Porco as he longs for the skies.
Of course, the animation is superb. The way Studio Ghibli designs the characters, the backgrounds, and even the airplanes is done with all of the talent, adding to the excellence of the feature.
My one complaint about the film is that it never explains how Russo became cursed. The film never explores this and though we are shown flashbacks to Russo’s past, this particular entry is not even engaged.
Bottom line, Porco Russo is a beautiful exploration of man’s desire for freedom. It is beautifully drawn, beautifully told, and has a beautiful heart.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Mild violence
FAVORITE QUOTE: I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.
Check out the trailer below:
This review is based on the second dubbed version.
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