Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 3rd, 2005
The setting is the Adriatic in the 1930s. The hero is a bounty hunter known as Porco Rosso(“The Crimson Pig”), a former Italian seaplane pilot who deserted the post-war military ratherthan join the Fascists, and who, for mysterious reasons, has been cursed to look like a pig. Hemakes his living defending civilians from seaplane pirates, and his activities force the pirates tobring in outside talent: self-obsessed American aviator Curtis. In their first encounter, Porco’seng…ne gives out, and he must make his way to Milan, even with a price on his head, to have hisplane rebuilt from scratch.
Though, as with most Miyazaki films, there is a determined young girl (here the 17-year-oldengineer who redesigns Porco’s plane) who becomes the identification figure for the youngeraudience, the focus here is on the middle-aged Porco and his self-inflicted misery. He feels guiltfor having survived when all his friends died during the war, and refuses to follow his heart withregards to Gina, the widow of his best friend and the woman who loves him, even as he believeshimself to be unlovable. A much more adult vision, then, than the likes of Spirited Away.The plot itself doesn’t have the full wondrous delights of Miyazaki at his absolute peak, but thisis still a fine example of the sophistication and range of stories that animation is capable of.
For once, I have no objections to the English language track. The voice acting is excellent,with special kudos going to Michael Keaton as the gruff Porco. The 2.0 isn’t bad at all, and hassome nice surround elements. The volume and power of the music does, for some reason, seemstronger on the Japanese track, however.
The transfer is excellent. There is no grain, and the colours are brilliant, wonderfully evokingthe sun-drenched locales. The print is in perfect shape, and there is no damage whatsoever. Theaspect ratio is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the image is as sharp as one could wish.
You have the usual “Behind the Microphone” featurette, which is promotional, but notaltogether uninformative. Better is the Japanese interview with producer Toshio Suzuki on themaking of the film (though one might have hope to hear from Miyazaki himself). The trailers arehere, too. Disc 2 has the complete storyboards — nothing wrong with this, but it is an extra thatwill appeal only to the hardcore. The menu is fully animated and scored.
Another fine release from the Studio Ghibli. Let’s hope Disney keeps this importscoming.
Special Features List
- “Behind the Microphone” Featurette
- Interview with Producer Toshio Suzuki
- Japanese Trailers and TV Spots
- Complete Storyboards