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Take flight with PORCO ROSSO, a valiant World War I flying ace! From tropical Adriatic settings to dazzling aerial maneuvers, this action-adventure from world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki is full of humor, courage, and chivalry. 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's in the air where the true battles are waged. Will our hero be victorious? For the first time ever on Disney Blu-ray, PORCO ROSSO is a thrilling ride you'll never forget!
Top Customer Reviews
I can only hope that Amazon will package this in a 3-pack with Nausicaa in the Valley of Wind and My Neighbor Totoro, all due (actually LONG overdue) for simultaneous release. (The official date of release is now Feb. 22, and it will be released with Nausicaa and The Cat Returns; Totoro is not currently scheduled. This is mistifying, as The Cat Returns is actually a sequel to another Ghibli [but not Miyazaki] film that has never been released in the U.S.)
"Porco Rosso" is the master's most autobiographical work, for once he was not trying to impart any moral or environmental lessons to children or young girls or the Japanese society, as most of his other works did---but a heartfelt fantasy projection of himself (being an independent agent neither belonging to your typical Japanese Anime Industry or the Hollywood/Disney American Culture juggernaut, as symbolized by the brash American Pilot-Fighter, Curtis).
It's also a celebration of his fellow frustrated romantic and idealistic adults (many tired Japanese salary men and animators) who have not completely surrendered their youthful dreams to the MAN/military industry.
Set in Post WWI Europe, where Fascism was on the rise, the Continental world it captured was a last breath of fantastic and natural freedom before a long darkness set in...
The genius stroke here is by turning the protagonist into a PIG, a whimsical yet literal mockery on those old-fashioned/outdated all-male/brotherhood chauvinist melodramatic adventure genre it so lovingly appropriates, and a gentle dig on "mankind" in general, all in good and slightly surreal fun.
In this story, Miyazaki made fun (instead of preaching to) of his society, himself and his prominent role in it.
Yet, behind all the cartoony surface lies the touching elegiac sadness of a lost past and a yearning hope (placed esp. on a young female) for a better future, straight from Miyazaki-san's cynical/sentimental heart.
Presented as a light-hearted lark only makes its immersing nostalgia and lyricism all the more spontaneously enchanting
and unexpectedly affecting. A magical paradox of his great art.
"Porco Rosso" is the "Casablanca" of cartoons with a touch of Roald Dahl, and the most under-rated and overlooked of Miyazaki's fabulous work.
No worries; after watching the DVD...twice now, with occasional pauses to switch language/subtitle tracks...I don't think there's a thing wrong with Disney's release.
As to the film itself, I love it; as I say above, it's been a favorite of mine for years. This somewhat quirky action/adventure story is a blast for any fan of the genre, but it's the aviation angle that grabs me in this one. Technically, for those who haven't seen it, Hayao Miyazake's affinity for aviation is most evident in this film...as a pilot and long time aviation junkie, it feels near-perfect to me, and explains why it's a personal high scorer on my own top ten list. The pertinent discussion here, though, is Disney's addition of an English language track in this release, so in writing this review I shall focus on my own feelings about it.
Now, I'm certainly no expert in the field of cinematic art, but I've watched a bunch of different versions of this film, from mediocre fan-subs on VHS to more professional DVD editions, so I have got several comparisons in mind to help form my opinion.
To begin with, sure, there are some minor variations from the dialogue I've seen before, but to me there's nothing significant to quibble over. I suppose if I was conversant in idiomatic Japanese I could speak with more authority, but I didn't have any jarring moments while watching the film, with two minor exceptions: Marco's original surname, 'Pabatto,' being substituted with the name 'Rosselini,' in the English dub and the mutation of his friend's name (and one of Gina's husbands) from 'Belneldi' to 'Berlini.' I suspect the latter may have been a bit of misunderstanding in the original Japanese actor Shuichiro Moriyama's pronunciation of the 'Ls' in the name that got carried over to this new release, though the name 'Belneldi' is clearly written on the group photo of Marco and his friends that still hangs in Gina's office.
The change from Marco Pabatto's name is less forgivible; even in this release if the original Japanese audio track (and the French one, too...I think; kinda hard to make out, but it sure isn't 'Rosselini!) is selected you can clearly hear Fio asking about 'Marco Pabatto' in the conversation at the campsite where Porco discloses his supernatural experience during the war, after which he was transformed into a pig.
Still, that's but a ripple on an otherwise serene sea, at least for me. I thought Michael Keaton did a fine job as Porco, from what I've read here I was expecting more of an over-the-top vocalization like he did in 'Beetlejuice.' Nope, nice work.
On the other hand, while Keaton is good, happily the very best Porco voice I've yet heard is right on this DVD, in Jean Reno's interpretation on the French audio track. I read on nausicaa.net that Miyzake-san thought Reno was even better than Moriyama's original Porco, and I concur in spades. I almost wish he'd done the English dub, too; it wouldn't be the first time this Frenchman played an Italian in an English-language movie...remember 'Leon,' aka 'The Professional?' Great actor.
One reviewer here disliked Susan Egan's take on the song 'Le temps des cerises' that Gina sings early in the picture, but I believe full credit should be given to Ms. Egan for making the effort to sing as well as a professional lounge chanteuse in addition to performing her speaking part in the film for consistency's sake. I admit to being terribly biased in this case, as I think Susan Egan has one of the most appealing and sultry speaking voices I've ever heard, but as for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed her rendition of the song, even if it might not have been quite as technically skilled as the original version was.
As for the English speaking Gina being 'curiously distant,' as Mr. Solomon commented in his in-house review, I must respectfully disagree with his asessment. Of course Gina is somewhat distant, she's had three husbands killed already, with her true love and old flame Porco still alive but in constant peril...even she herself comments at one point that she's cried herself out over the years and now only feels numb! Yet, in the film's more emotional moments I found Ms. Egan's Gina just as warm and intimate as Ms. Kato's ever was, sometimes even more so. Okay, it's subjective, and I'm biased. Your mileage may vary!
Cary Elwes was a hoot as Donald Curtis, with his mildly goofy Texas accent, and Kimberly Williams gave a great performance as Fio, sounding just as cute and spunky as did the original Japanese actress, Akemi Okamura. No disappointments there.
Top marks for David Ogden Stiers' take on Grandpa Piccolo in this release. He gets better every time with these projects; his inflection, tone, and nuance of voice are terrific, and his old codger's cackle is perfection itself. As impressed as I was with his characterization of Kamaji in 'Spirited Away,' he blew me away with his wonderfully hilarious voice acting here!
To sum up, for me Disney has taken one of my favorite films of all time and made it even more enjoyable with their version. I've recommended this film for years to friends and family, but had few takers as many of them didn't have the patience to pay the closer attention than normal required when viewing a subtitled movie. Now this has been remedied and the only thing seriously lacking in my Miyazaki collection is their English dub of Tonari no Totoro...c'mon, Disney, you can do it!
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