Porco Rosso (Japanese: 紅の豚 Hepburn: Kurenai no Buta, lit. Crimson Pig) is a 1992 Japanese animated comedy-adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is based on Hikōtei Jidai ("The Age of the Flying Boat"), a three-part watercolor manga by Miyazaki. The film stars the voices of Shūichirō Moriyama, Tokiko Kato, Akemi Okamura and Akio Ōtsuka. Toshio Suzuki produced the film. It was animated by Studio Ghibli for Tokuma Shoten, Japan Airlines and the Nippon Television Network and distributed by Toho. 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 into an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot (Marco Rossolini in the American version), he is now known to the world as "Porco Rosso", Italian for "Red Pig".
Porco Rosso, a veteran World War I fighter ace and freelance bounty hunter, responds to an alert over an attack on a ferry liner by airborne pirates. Having successfully defeated the airborne pirates, Porco treats himself to a good dinner at the Hotel Adriano, which is run by his long-time friend Gina.
At the restaurant of the hotel the heads of the pirate gangs are contracting Curtis, an arrogant and ambitious American ace, to assist them in their next attacks. Curtis falls in love on the spot with Gina, but is frustrated to see his declarations rebuffed and her affection for Porco. After successfully executing a pirating mission, Curtis tracks down Porco, who is flying to Milan to have his plane serviced, and shoots him down as he experiences an engine outage, claiming to have killed him. Porco actually survives, all but the airframe of his plane has been destroyed and the fuselage is heavily damaged. Porco continues the trip by train with the remains of the plane, much to the irritation of Gina, already worried about his having been shot down and who reminds him that there is a warrant for his arrest in Italy.
Porco arrives discreetly in Milan to meet Piccolo, his mechanic. He learns that Piccolo's sons have emigrated to find work elsewhere due to the great depression, and much of the engineering will have to be carried on by his young granddaughter Fio. Porco is initially skeptical of Fio's abilities as a mechanic, but after seeing her dedication in the repair project he accepts her as a competent engineer. With no males to assist in the works, Piccolo calls up an all-female team of all ages 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 arrest the team, they can say that Porco forced them to help and took Fio as a hostage. 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.
Back at the Hotel Adriano, Curtis proposes to Gina but she turns him down, saying that she is waiting for Porco Rosso to realize that she loves him and approach her. 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 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.
That night, at Fio's request Porco tells a story recalling an event in World War I, 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 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. After an indecisive dogfight between Porco and Curtis, which soon dissolves into a bare-knuckle 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 Gina, requesting that she look after Fio. 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 (it is implied, but not shown, that Porco has become human again). The film ends with Fio's narrating that in the end Porco outflies the Italian air force and is never hunted by them again; Fio becomes president of the Piccolo company, which is now an aircraft manufacturer; Curtis becomes a famous actor; the pirates continue to attend the Hotel Adriano in their old age; and Fio decides to leave it a secret whether Gina's hope about Porco Rosso was ever realized.
After the credits, a familiar red seaplane appears soaring in the sky before disappearing into the clouds.
|Character||Original cast||Disney English dub cast|
|Porco Rosso / Marco Pagot (Rossolini)||Shūichirō Moriyama||Michael Keaton|
|Donald Curtis||Akio Ōtsuka||Cary Elwes|
|Madame Gina||Tokiko Kato||Susan Egan|
|Mamma Aiuto Gang Boss||Tsunehiko Kamijō||Brad Garrett|
|Mr. Piccolo||Sanshi Katsura||David Ogden Stiers|
|Fio Piccolo||Akemi Okamura||Kimberly Williams-Paisley|
|Mamma Aiuto Gang||Reizō Nomoto
Kevin Michael Richardson
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. Due to this, the opening text introducing the film appears simultaneously in Japanese, Italian, Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, French and German.
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.
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. He reflects that the conflicts that broke out during the film's production (such as those in Dubrovnik and elsewhere) made Porco Rosso a much more complicated and difficult film.
Evident historical and political realism aside, at least one scholar has argued that the film's more overt historical references can be understood as representative of wakon yosai (Japanese spirit; Western techniques)--a tendency, since the Meji period, for Japanese artists to paint Europe as spectacular, while simultaneously maintaining the distance necessary to preserve a distinct sense of Japanese identity. "In Porco Rosso," states academic Chris Wood, "Europe is tamed, rendered as a charming site of pleasurable consumption, made distant and viewed through a tourist gaze."
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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 also has a V-tail, slightly reminiscent of the Magister jet trainer.
Porco's air-force friend Ferrarin may also be named for, if not actually be, the Italian Air Force pilot Arturo Ferrarin who flew the Macchi M.39 which won the 1926 Schneider Trophy race of that year for Italy. This is suggested during the film by Ferrarin catching up to Porco in the S.21 flying an M.39, warning him to avoid capture by the Air Force on his way back to the Adriatic. 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.
While in Piccolo's engine shop, the engine to be used in the Porco's rebuilt Savoia S.21 also has the word "Ghibli" visible on its rocker covers—in design it is a narrow-angle V-12 engine, similar in form to racing engines of the period. Piccolo mentions that it was used in a racing aeroplane for the Schneider Trophy race in the year before.
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. 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. Miyazaki revisited the theme of aviation history in his 2013 film The Wind Rises.
|Soundtrack album by Joe Hisaishi|
|Released||22 July 1992|
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Porco Rosso was the number one film on the Japanese market in 1992, earning ¥2.8 billion in distribution income. 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. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 94% based on 16 reviews. Wilson McLachlan, of the Left Field Cinema, considered it "the most underrated film from the Studio Ghibli catalogue."
In 2011, Miyazaki said that he wanted to make a follow-up anime to the 1992 original film if his next few films following Ponyo were 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. Miyazaki is writing the film, but Hiromasa Yonebayashi will direct. Due to both Miyazaki and Yonebayashi's departure from Ghibli and the current hiatus of the studio itself, the current status on the proposed sequel remains uncertain.
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