Sunday, October 11, 2009

Avanti o Populo, Porco Rosso

Miyazaki's Porco Rosso is a pleasant movie, and a beautiful cartoon. It is about a seaplane pilot in the 1920-1930s Adriatic. He is a bounty hunter in milieu of cruise ships and seaplane pirates (in Japanese, "pilot" and "pirate" are homonyms). He lives on a hidden island, drinks red wine and smokes cigarettes and loves (from afar) the beautiful owner of an island resort. Oh, yes, and he's a pig. Nose, ears, oink oink.

We get an explanation of how he became a pig in the third act, but frankly, I was being dazzled by the visuals, and it rolled off my back like ducks.

What beautiful visuals this animation has. Funky, almost steampunk seaplanes, insignificant against a background of Winslow Homer cloudscapes. Fleets of them taking off against propaganda poster smokestacks in Fascist Milan. Sky pirates all goggles and black beards, right out of Herge's Tin Tin ligne clair. I almost suspect that Miyazaki-san wanted to make a comic out of nothing but planes soaring around the sky in beautiful freedom, then added a few characters and decided to make a movie of it.

We watched the Disney dub, with Michael Keaton as the hardboiled pig, Porco Rosso. We also get Brad Garrett as no. 1 pirate boss - not well bathed, but with a fine sense of honor and rough nobility. The villain is an American who wants to kill Porco and make his name - he's voiced by Cary Elwes. I don't mind the American voices, but I hear Miyazaki-san prefers the French dub, with Jean Reno as Porco.

Even though our hero is a pig, there's a cute feminist subplot to this movie. Porco gets his plane overhauled by an aged mechanic, who turns the job over to his granddaughter, a plucky anime type girl hero. Since all of the Italian manpower is getting involved in the Fascist war effort, the crew for the overhaul is all female, and they all revel in the woman power they bring to the gig.

In conclusion, that's my second article title based on the Italian communist anthem Avanti o Populo, Bandiera Rossa. It's just a catchy tune.

No comments: