A melancholy film about a porcine bounty hunter that flies across the Adriatic, encountering brash American pilots, curiously cuddly airborne sky pirates, and who’s tangled in a complicated old love with a woman who lost all her friends in war just like him.
Young love, old love, flight, Milan, the Mediterranean, it’s a very old-fashioned old Hollywood movie, but rendered through Hayao Miyazaki’s distinctive lens – what a fitting match such a flight-centred story is. Interestingly, Miyazaki has expressed some regret over the regret-filled story, chiding the apparent foolishness in making “an adult movie for children”. Coming after Studio Ghibli’s last film “Only Yesterday”, a critical and commercial hit fascinating in being so specifically targeted to adult women, “Porco Rosso” represents a brief but fascinating time where Studio Ghibli made films outside its typical “for and largely about children, but so well-made and with such depth that adults are swept up by them too” remit.
Synthesising beautiful but little-known real-world locations, Roald Dahl war stories, it’s fascinating that what was initially an in-flight short film commissioned for Japan Airlines became a fully-fledged animated film heavier on the melancholy and regret than what a jubilant, comic in-flight Ghibli short film, what might have been expected. Three planes and a cove.