Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso (The Crimson Pig, 1992) ranks as Hayao Miyazaki’s oddest film: a bittersweet period adventure about a dashing pilot who has somehow been turned into a pig. Miyazaki once said, "Initially, it was supposed to be a 45-minute film for tired businessmen to watch on long airplane flights... Why kids love it is a mystery to me." The early 1930s setting enabled Miyazaki to focus on the old airplanes he loves, and the film boasts complex and extremely effective aerial stunts and dogfights. When "Porco" — whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell — infuriates a band of sky pirates with his aerial heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a rival pilot, to "get rid" of him. On the ground, the two pilots compete for the affections of the beautiful Gina. But it is in the air where the true battles are waged. - Amazon.com
Year Released
Running Time
93 minutes
Date Released
Studio Ghibli
Average: 4 (1 vote)


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The Crimson Pig

Field of Interest/Specialty: Education
Posted On: 10/13/2019

Ann Smith
4th grade
Eastbrook Elementary
Winfield, West Virginia
The Crimson Pig
Porco Rosso is a mostly light-hearted Japanese anime that seems mainly to recount and relish the era of emerging flight between World War I and World War II. The main character, Porco Rosso, was once human but was turned into a corpulent pig during World War II. Porco makes a living bounty hunting the pirates who terrorize the Adriatic Sea. On his way to Italy for repairs to his plane, he is shot down by an American pilot, Curtis, who has been paid by the pirate syndicate to get rid of Porco. Porco survives the attack and continues with his battered plane to Italy, where he finds that his trusted airplane mechanic only has his seventeen-year-old granddaughter Fio working as an engineer in the shop. Despite her youth and Porco’s initial reservation in trusting her with his plane, her skills and enthusiasm win him over. After his plane is repaired, he returns to the Adriatic Sea area with Fio as an uninvited and almost unwelcome passenger. Curtis wants a rematch, which ends in a draw after hours of battle in the air as well as a final fistfight in the water after both planes are forced to land after running out of ammunition. Porco and Curtis both knock each other out, but Porco rises first from the water to be declared the winner, saving Fio from losing a bet in which she would have to marry Curtis.
This film would be suitable for older middle school to high school students due to some mild profanity use that would be problematic for some parents at the elementary level as well as the characters’ alcohol and tobacco use.
Several important questions are left unanswered, primarily how and why Porco became a pig. The viewer is told that there is a warrant for his arrest in Italy for desertion during the war, but is left to wonder if he absconded with the plane in the process and is thereby under a double condemnation. The relationship between him and his deceased friend’s wife Gina is left without a resolution as well. That dissatisfaction aside, the plot and air battle scenes are engaging. The film presents some highly teachable moments on key themes. For these reasons in totality, I gave it four stars instead of five.
I think this film would be a fresh look at the ennui and lassitude that followed World War I for older students studying that time period. Porco emanates these traits throughout the movie. Even when he learns that Gina has been carrying a torch for him, his reaction is of shock and surprise, not necessarily delight. Until he extends himself to rescue Fio from a marriage to Curtis and then the pilots about to be swarmed by the Italian air force, Porco takes care of himself and has no deep attachments with others, not even Gina. His last significant relationship was with her husband during World War I while he was human.
Most valuable is the scene in which Porco tells Fio, and the viewers see reenacted, of the massive battle in which Gina’s husband died and Marco the man became Porco the pig. During an extended battle in which first the skies and then the water are filled with allies and enemies battling and dying, Marco’s plane starts flying upward of its own accord while Marco begins to lose consciousness. He breaks above the clouds to see a light trace in the sky. Suddenly, the air around him is filled with planes also lifting heavenward. He sees his friend and calls to him, but his friend does not respond or indicate any awareness. In the most telling moment of the film he says that all those men were good, even though the number was equally comprised of his own comrades and men that Marco had considered the enemy, shot at, and possibly killed in the air battle. Following this epiphany, Marco’s plane descends alone and he emerges from this moment a pig. The loss of one’s humanity in war is a universal theme that this movie explores without being too heavy handed about it. This light touch on the issue would be an excellent springboard for discussion as it allows the viewers to arrive at this speculation without being told. Of further note is the fact that Fio sees a glimpse of the man Porco used to be while he is retelling the events. The only other time that Porco seems to revert to his human form is at the very end when he asks Curtis, his very recent mortal enemy whom he refused to kill when he had the chance, to help him ensure that the other pilots, many of whom are of dubious character at best, escape safely. The movie ends with an equally tantalizing and frustrating unresolved question of whether Porco’s recent actions of selflessness and grace are enough to restore him permanently back to humanity -- or if, like so many soldiers haunted in peacetime by their memories of their actions in war, humanity is nothing but a memory.