Sunday, January 11, 2009

Porco Rosso.

Improbably, for a site involving movies sent at random, there's a theme week this week. It's Miyazaki week everyone! I've got two Miyazaki movies sitting here, and while I might be accused of tampering with results to get a wacky theme, that's not the case, honestly. Someone out there decided I needed a theme week, apparently, and at the very least I have a theme based on one of the best directors working in animation.

I love Hayao Miyazaki, mostly because he elevates animation to an art form. Watching one of his movies, you're often struck by the atmosphere, the detail, and the sheer beauty of the film he's made. Too often with animation, it feels cheap, or as though the production team is mostly concerned with doing something easy for the kids. With him, you know that he's making an animated movie for the love of animation and pure style he can bring to it. If someone dares suggest that cell animation is a dead art form, they just need to watch some Studio Ghibli films in order to be proven otherwise.

So from that one can assume that Porco Rosso is beautifully animated, well written, and as a whole a fantastic film that everyone should see. It was published by Disney, so it's got a lovely DVD package along with a sometimes questionable dub featuring celebrities, including half asleep Michael Keaton in the lead role. There, this is going to be the easiest week I'll ever do!

Alright, fine, I'll get more in depth. Porco Rosso is about a fantastic pilot who is also somehow a pig. He's a bounty hunter who hunts pirates, who are getting sick of being hunted down and have hired the Frenchest American ever to shoot him down. I have a feeling something was fudged in the translation, because I don't think an American would wear a french flag as part of his clothing. This whole thing is set on the backdrop of rising fascism in Italy.

The movie is something of a homage to old Hollywood, the stuff they made around the second World War. In atmosphere and style, it's a lot like movies like Casablanca. Something informed by the nearby war, but really about how people in the countries deal with the changes. Everyone smokes a lot, people hang out in classy bars and listen to french singers and the hero is surly but good and honorable at heart.

This is a love letter to movies, to Hollywood, to the great actors and directors of a bygone era. In every frame you can see the great affection Miyazaki has for film. And watching this, it become apparent that if cell animation ever dies out, it'll be the greatest loss that ever has happened in film.

Screen at 34:59

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy Miyazaki films, though they are often hard for me to follow for some reason. Maybe it's because the last one I watched was Howl's Moving Castle.... Either way, there's definitely a beauty to his art that can't be denied by even the fruitiest of pretentious geeks. I really do need to check this film out, I've only ever heard about it before.