Porco Rosso is an amazing film. You probably already knew that, because it was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and nearly everything that Miyazaki created is amazing. But as I keep discovering with Miyazaki, every work he created is amazing in a different way.
This film is an aviation epic that takes place between the two World Wars, with a classic action hero star who has tremendous depth, energy and humanity. Flying ace Marco Rosso is brave, strong, passionate, full of love and energy and intelligence – and he’s a pig in a place where everybody else is a human being. He battles pirates who terrorize cruise ships in the Adriatic Sea while languidly pursuing the beautiful Gina and trying to pay off the debts of his newest plane.
Along the way Rosso acquires the steadfast young female mechanic Fio Piccolo as a sidekick as we learn more about his background, his rivals and his friends. We see him reunite with a longtime companion, learn his fascinating and complex background (with several beautifully memorable scenes) and have just enough revealed to us as viewers to make the story thoroughly satisfying.
I’m relatively new to Miyazaki. I’ve only watched a few of his films, but I’ve seen enough of them to appreciate his genius eye for details and the attention he takes at setting up every aspect of his story to tell a novel on celluloid, a complex tale that emphasizes personality, setting and philosophy while also including plenty of thrilling adventure and fighting. His films thus appeal to the heart and soul while also stirring the viewer with outstanding action scenes.
This new Blu-ray release of Porco Rosso, released by Disney, looks spectacular on my Blu-ray player. Images are crisp and bright, and the abundant background details are lovely. Unfortunately the disk only has a limited number of extras: a set of Japanese trailers; a short “behind the microphone” feature that features the voice-over American actors; a set of original storyboards; and an interview with the producer. It would have been nice to have included a documentary about the film and its settings, maybe something that could place this cinematic masterpiece in context of Italian history or the history of Studio Ghibli.
But that complaint aside, this is a must-buy for any fan of great cinema – not just great animation but great cinema. Marco Rosso is a fascinating, complex character, wonderfully presented and unique in cinematic history. The world that Miyazaki presets around that great character helps to make him even more intriguing and makes this film truly exceptional.