This unsung, delightfully bizarre treasure from Hayao Miyazaki nestles a tale of morality and identity inside a soaring airborne adventure — a tribute to early aviation and the reckless flyboys whose home was the open sky. Set between the World Wars in an Italy swept by Fascism, the film follows Marco, a world-weary flying ace who now plies his trade as a bounty hunter chasing air pirates above the Adriatic Sea. Somewhere in the past, a terrible curse gave Marco the head of a pig — a reflection, perhaps, of his loss of faith in humanity. Marco meets his polar opposite in Fio, a innocent, energetic 17-year-old girl who aspires to be an airplane designer. The two are catapulted into high-flying conflict involving air pirates, the Italian army, and an egotistical American flying ace. Miyazaki fans will be familiar with the writer-director’s fascination with flight; in Porco Rosso, Miyazaki indulges his passion to the fullest. An avid aviation buff, Miyazaki’s airplane designs conform scrupulously to the technology of the period. But most impressive are the exhilarating aerial scenes: sweeping panoramas of wind, cloud, smoke and water and the breathtaking feeling of soaring though the air in an open cockpit. Colour, 35mm, in Japanese with English subtitles. 94 mins.
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