Porco Rosso, known in Japan as Crimson Pig (紅の豚Kurenai no Buta) is the sixth anime film by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli, released in 1992, about an Italian World War I fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing "air pirates" in the Adriatic Sea. The man has been cursed, and has been transformed into a pig. Once called Marco Pagot, he is now known to the world as "Porco Rosso", Italian for "Red Pig."
The film tells of the story of Porco Rosso and his would-be romance with Gina, who runs a sea pilots' club and hotel in the Adriatic Sea. The plot revolves around Porco's friendship with a girl named Fio, who is a talented aircraft engineer, and his rivalry with a hotshot American pilot named Curtis. Porco has been cursed with the face of a pig, though the origin and nature of the curse are never fully explained.
Originally a World War I ace pilot in the Italian Air Force, Porco has grown disillusioned and now makes his living as a bounty hunter guarding ships in the Adriatic sea from pirate gangs with planes. Though rivals, Porco and the pirates manage to coexist with a minimum of bloodshed. For relaxation, he and other pilots spend their evenings on neutral ground at the Hotel Adriano, the establishment run by Gina.
The opening scene shows Porco in his flight suit, resting on the beach of a tiny island. After he finishes negotiating the price of his services by telephone, he leisurely takes off in his red sea plane to rescue a kidnapped group of girls from a gang of bumbling sea plane pirates. He succeeds in rescuing the girls but lets the pirates keep some of the loot for repairs. Afterward, he flies to the Hotel Adriano for dinner and spends some time with Gina, one of his closest friends and the owner of the hotel. While at the hotel, Porco also meets Curtis, an American pilot who is negotiating an employment contract with a band of pirates.
Some time later, as Porco flies his plane into Milan for repairs, Curtis attempts to shoot him and Porco's engine breaks down and he crashes. Curtis claims to have shot the plane down, and believes Porco to be dead. Porco lands his damaged plane on an island, saving himself. Porco finishes his journey to Milan and has his plane repaired by Piccolo S.P.A., an aircraft design shop owned by an old mechanic and friend of Porco's. Because of the Great Depression, the men of the company have left in droves to find work abroad, so the company enlists the aid of the owner's granddaughter, Fio, along with a workforce of female relatives to work on redesign and repair of the plane. Despite his initial misgivings, Porco soon realizes that Fio, in spite of her age and gender, is a mechanical genius. His plane is completed, and she insists on flying with him in case adjustments need to be made to the plane. At first he is resolutely against it, but she talks him into letting her on, and Fio flies off with him, barely avoiding an ambush by the Italian secret police.
Meanwhile, Curtis has found his way into Gina's private garden and invites her to a glamorous life back in America. Gina laughs and refuses telling him "love here is more complicated than in America". Stunned, he asks who she is waiting for, and Gina tells him she has bet with herself that if a certain man comes into her garden they will fall in love. Just then Porco's plane appears and circles Gina's garden, and Gina rushes off to see if he will land. He does some spins and tricks in the air, but Porco does not land. Curtis is amazed that she would choose "that pig!" over him.
Upon landing at his island hideaway, Porco discovers that it has been infiltrated by pirates. Fio talks them out of killing Porco or destroying his plane and appeals to their honor as seaplane pilots. Curtis then reveals himself and challenges Porco to a duel. The terms of the duel are agreed upon: If Porco wins, Curtis will pay off his airplane repairs; if Curtis wins, Fio will marry him.
Later that night, Fio wakes up and thinks she has glimpsed the famous Marco Rossolini who is Porco in human form. She asks him to tell her a story and he tells her about a strange incident that happened to him in the last summer of the war, when Porco was still in the air force and still a human. Porco's best friend and fellow fighter Bellini had married Gina and, immediately after, he and Porco had returned to the skies, where their seaplanes were attacked by an Austrian squadron. Exhausted and struggling to operate his plane, he realized he was too weak to control it, and gave up. His plane then piloted itself into a cloud of startling brightness and purity and he imagined himself to be in heaven. Emerging at the top of the cloud, he spotted a white band high above him. The other squadron pilots from the battle, including Bellini, emerged from the cloud in their planes and climbed to the white band, which is revealed to the viewer to be a vast procession of planes downed in battle. Porco shouted to Bellini that he must not leave Gina, that he would go instead. Bellini, apparently deaf to Porco's cry, did not turn. Porco admits that this incident is a great source of guilt for him. It is unclear as to whether this caused his transformation (although it is greatly implied).
The next day, Porco and Curtis meet for the dogfight. The duel is organized by the pirates and held on a secluded island. The outcome is heavily bet on by the criminals and seaplane pilots alike. At the fight's beginning, Porco merely avoids Curtis, baiting him into wasting bullets. However, as the fight progresses, Curtis realizes Porco's strategy and starts conserving his ammo. Porco out-flies him and gains a superior firing position by using the loop maneuver that made him ace of the Adriatic during the war, but still he does not shoot at Curtis. Curtis thinks that his enemy's guns are jammed, but the real reason is revealed to Fio by one of the pirate bosses: Porco will not take a shot at an enemy if there is a risk of hitting the pilot. Curtis taunts the pig that his guns are jammed but is quickly shut up by a short burst of fire from the red seaplane. This is the start of a stalemate, with each pilot attempting to gain the advantage over the other.
Meanwhile, Gina has received a message from a friend that the Italian Air Force are rushing toward the fight with an arrest warrant out for Porco, and she takes it upon herself to warn him.
Back at the fight, both pilots are extraordinarily tired and beginning to fade. Porco finally gains an angle for a clear shot at Curtis' engine but is dismayed to find that his machine gun is jammed and he cannot fire. Curtis sees this vulnerability, and attempts to shoot Porco but discovers he has run out of bullets. Both eventually settle on throwing debris from their planes at each other, until they land in the bay and the duel degenerates into a fistfight. Both are exhausted from the air combat but go on for Fio. The duel goes on for several rounds, both Curtis and Porco develop many bumps and bruises, but no one will give up (Porco is surprised that Curtis is stronger than he looks). During the fight, Curtis tells Porco that Gina is in love with him and, ironically, accuses Porco of being a womanizer and implies that he is leading Fio on. The two hit one another in the face with equal strength and both fall into the water. It is decided that the first one to come up wins the fight.
Just then, Gina's plane arrives. When Porco hears Gina calling him, his strength is returned and he gets up from under the water. In doing so, he wins the duel with Curtis. Gina then warns the island's inhabitants of the approaching Italian Air Force and they promptly flee. Curtis holds up his end of the deal and pays Fio. Porco sends Fio away with Gina to keep her safe, as Fio glides away with Gina she kisses Porco. Porco tells Curtis that he is going to draw the Air Force away from the others, and asks if Curtis wants to join him. Curtis agrees and then notices that Porco's face underwent a dramatic change (which the audience doesn't see, but is implied to have reverted to its human form).
The film ends with a voice-over narration by Fio describing the years that follow, in which she inherits the Piccolo company, Curtis becomes a Hollywood star, and the pirate pilots spend their old age reminiscing at Gina's club. The English dub reveals that Porco "flew circles around the Italian Air Force" and remains at large, however, the Japanese subtitles translate, "Porco never showed up again, even after the Air Force did its sweep." In reference to Gina's bet with herself regarding Porco, she says that it's "their secret". However, a red plane can be seen at the other end of Gina's island.
|Character||Original cast||Disney English dub cast|
|Porco Rosso||Shuichiro 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: Bill Fagerbakke, Kevin Michael Richardson, Frank Welker
- Additional Voices by Jack Angel, Dee Bradley Baker, Michael Bell, Jeff Bennett, Earl Boen, Cameron Bowen, Rodger Bumpass, Corey Burton, Jennifer Darling, Debi Derryberry, Ashley Edner, Paul Eiding, Bill Farmer, Pat Fraley, Brian George, Lynn Harris, Tom Kenny, Sherry Lynn, Tress MacNeille, Kaitlyn Maggio, Mickie McGowan, Laraine Newman, Rob Paulsen, Philip Proctor, Aimee Rolden, Deanne Russo, and Jim Ward
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 originally 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.
History and politics
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 a 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, most likely near Rijeka in Croatia and the surrounding Croatian islands.
The story takes place between the two World Wars. The scenes in the Adriatic town suggest that the town is Fiume (today Rijeka). 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 likely 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 that the story takes place in 1929.
Porco makes statements about his being anti-fascist. Although his transformation into a pig is never fully explained, it is hinted that it is due to him leaving the Italian Air Force (thus turning his back on his country) because of Italy turning toward fascism. At one point he says, "I'd much rather be a pig than a fascist".
Homage to early aviation
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 also notably used in the film for Marco's Air Force pilot friend), but as a flying boat resembles most closely the Piaggio P-136 and later P-166 twin engined amphibians, in having a pusher/jet configuration, inverted gull-wing configuration, retractable wingtip floats that double as fuel tanks, side retractable wheels, and slotted flap surfaces. The Jet-amphibian is also reminiscent of the Fouga Zephyr 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 light reconnaissance aircraft Caproni Ca.309 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, "I fratelli dinamite", 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. 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 seem remarkably ridiculous (hence Gina laughing off his ambition), though modern viewers would gain a satisfied grin from Curtiss on this score. The rest of Curtiss' character appears to come from directly from the adventure film heroes portrayed by Errol Flynn at this time — indeed, they share a jaw line — in terms of buccaneering derring do, willingness to fight, and overall demeanour combined with romantic ardour.
- "The Wind of Time (When a Human Can Be a Human)" – 2:50
- "MAMMAIUTO" – 1:21
- "Addio!" – 0:37
- "The Bygone Days" – 2:16
- "A Sepia-Coloured Picture" – 0:47
- "Serbia March" – 1:03
- "Flying Boatmen" – 2:36
- "Doom (Cloud Trap)" – 1:23
- "Porco e Bella" – 1:06
- "Fio-Seventeen" – 2:04
- "The Women of Piccolo" – 2:04
- "Friend" – 3:04
- "Partnership" – 2:28
- "Madness (Flight)" – 2:39
- "To the Adriatic Sea" – 1:50
- "In Search of the Distant Era" – 2:18
- "Love at First Sight in the Wildness" – 1:11
- "At the End of Summer" – 1:26
- "Lost Spirit" – 4:11
- "Dog Fight" – 2:10
- "Porco e Bella (Ending)" – 2:35
- "The Time of Cherries" (sung by Tokiko Kato) – 2:52
- "Once in a While, Talk of the Old Days" (composition, lyrics, singing by Tokiko Kato, arrangement by Yoko Kanno, Junichiro Ohkuchi) – 3:56
- Original story, screenplay written and directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
- Music director: Joe Hisaishi
- Supervising animators: Megumi Kagawa, Toshio Kawaguchi
- Art director: Katsu Hisamura
- Color design: Michiyo Yasuda
- Camera supervisor: Atsushi Okui
- Theme Song Performance: Tokiko Kato
- Editor: Takeshi Seyama
- "Porco Rosso" Production committee: Tokuma Shoten, Japan Airlines, Nippon Television Network, Studio Ghibli
- Executive producers: Yasuyoshi Tokuma, Matsuo Toshimitsu, Yoshio Sasaki
- Associate executive producers (planning): Tatsumi Yamashita, Hideo Ogata
- Producer: Toshio Suzuki
- Distributor: Toho
- Production: Studio Ghibli
- "Prix du long métrage (Feature movie) International Animation film festival - Annecy 1993
- The film received a "Tomatometer Rating" of 100 percent positive, on the website http://www.rottentomatoes.com.
- It also made Terry Gilliam's top 50 animated movie list.
- 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 
Miyazaki has proposed that he would like to make a follow-up to the 1992 original if his next few films following Ponyo are successful. The protagonist will be male this time around, as opposed to his affinity for strong female leads in his most recent films. The working name is currently Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie and it will be set during the Spanish Civil War with Porco also returning, albeit this time as an old pilot, reflecting Miyazaki's own aging.
|40x40px||Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Porco Rosso|
- Porco Rosso page at Nausicaa.net
- Porco Rosso Russian page with historic approach
- Porco Rosso (film) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kurenai No Buta at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Porco Rosso at the Internet Movie Database
- Porco Rosso at Allmovie
- Review at THEM Anime
- Miyazaki talks the future at AintItCool.com
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