Porco Rosso appears to be a magical tale for children. A first world war fighter pilot is transformed into a pig as he fights sky pirates across the Adriatic. However, as is the case with most Hayao Miyazaki films, Porco Rosso has more profound undercurrents and is an incredibly grown-up story. Set in the 1930s, Porco is an enemy of the Italian fascists, and the film also a critique of war, not just a glamorous caper in a beautiful location. When you re-watch the film as an adult it inspires you yet conjures sadness simultaneously, and proves that this animation is a work of art.
One of the film's most visually captivating yet heartbreaking scenes is a flying sequence where vast amounts of pilots ascend into the sky to create a vapour trail. They are deceased pilots seemingly entering heaven. Miyazaki uses fantasy to bring home the reality of war, and a generation of men, regardless of which nation their plane represents, wiped out in one sequence. It is easily one of the best scenes across cinema, and alone is enough to make Porco Rosso worth the watch.
The film also boasts one of the Studio’s best female protagonists. Studio Ghibli is renowned for its strong female leads, such as Nausicaa and Chihiro, who have undoubtedly influenced me growing up. However Porco Rosso’s female lead, Fio Piccolo, hardly gets a mention. An aspiring engineer seeking adventure, she mellows a raucous group of sky pirates and is essentially the heart of the film.
Feminine authority is also crucial to the construction of Porco’s red plane. The female branch of the Piccolo family, due to the absence of the men, are responsible for building it, and as a result are in control of Porco’s journey – himself and planes synonymous with each other.
Porco Rosso is also a film injected with humour for all ages and a lot of love. However, its greatest triumph is the design. The watercolour depiction of the Adriatic is mesmerising, ensuring you are fully transported to the world of this film.
Once you’ve watched Porco Rosso, you will almost certainly want to watch more of the back catalogue of Studio Ghibli. Flo has written the Top 10 Studio Ghibli films (to start you off) that is the perfect place to find a new fave!