Porco Rosso: The Crimson Pig's Crimson Airplane

Porco Rosso DVD Cover
Email: NCS@NotComingSoon.com

Kurenai no Buta, also known as Porco Rosso and The Crimson Pig, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, is the story of a man so repelled by the carnage of World War I that he has rejected humanity, including himself, to such a degree that he has metamorphosed into a pig. As a man he was named Marco but he is now called Porco Rosso because of his appearance and his elegant crimson seaplane. When the film opens, Porco's airplane acts to keep him separated from mankind in a physical sense. This physical distance reflects Porco's inner distance from humanity. Early in the movie, the plane's engine needs repair. From this point on, the plane's function is reversed. Porco is forced out of seclusion and into physical nearness with the world at large. This literal intimacy with Man allows Porco to regain his human nature.

The year is approximately 1930. Porco Rosso is a bounty hunter after Adriatic air pirates. He lives a secluded life with just one friend, the beauteous chanteuse, Gina. Marco (Porco) and Gina have been friends since childhood. She has been widowed by three different pilots, at least one of which was a close friend of Marco's. She's betting herself that at last Porco will realize he loves her. The pirates, appearing more nefarious than they behave, are not happy with Porco's success so they bring in an American, Donald Curtis, to shoot Porco down. Porco's engine is ailing and Curtis succeeds.

Porco ships his red airplane to Milan, to the Piccolo airplane factory where it is redesigned by Fio Piccolo, the owner's 17 year old grand daughter. The pirates and Curtis want another shot at Porco so a rematch between Curtis and Porco is arranged, climaxing with Porco and Curtis pounding each other to a pulp. Porco is the nominal winner and, apparently, now human. In the epilog, it appears that Gina has won her bet.

Initially, Porco's airplane allows him to maintain his distance from mankind. The most obvious way it does this is by only seating one. While in the air, Porco will rarely be closer to another pilot than a few hundred feet, except when engaged in battle. Another way it does this is by allowing him to reside on a private island. On the island, Porco's lives an hermetic existence. His most intimate contact with humanity is via the telephone. Mostly he just listens to the radio, a one way medium.

In the first fight sequence, while Porco is rescuing the school girl hostages, the red seaplane allows him to maintain his distance. Aside from hollering at a flying tour, in a way which may or may not have been audible aboard the touring airplane over engine noise, he does not speak to anyone directly until he has the girls on board. Porco does mutter comments such as "I'm not going to let you go any further." which is clearly to himself as the pirates are on the far side of an island and clearly out of audible range. The cruise ship directs him after the Mamma Aiuto pirates with a combination of Morse code, via signal lanterns, and sailors arranged into an arrow. Porco communicates with Aiuto using Morse and the signal lanterns. When the juvenile hostages board his plane, Porco is forced to speak to them but his inner distance discourages the girls from clambering on him as they had clambered on the pirates.

When its engine goes bad, the airplane's function starts to reverse. It no longer allows Porco his physical isolation but forces him to interact with people more directly. He can't escape Curtis but is chased down. Porco looks at Curtis directly and says, "I don't have time to play with you." Whether Curtis can hear him over engine and wind noise is not known but seems unlikely as he is also flying an open cockpit airplane.

Grandpa Piccolo requires all of Porco's cash for the repairs so Porco is forced to stay at the factory among all of the Piccolos. Porco shares the Piccolo roof and the Piccolo meals as if he is an extended family member. In fact, one of the senior Piccolo ladies kisses him on the cheek. This is the Porco's first human touch in the film. Porco even goes to the cinema. In short, Porco lives briefly like a regular person, integrated into society.

The crimson airplane is rebuilt as a two seater with a speaking tube between the seats to partially counter the engine noise. Its function of allowing/forcing Porco into seclusion is entirely reversed. Now, flying does not have to be solitary. In addition, one of the machine guns is unshipped to allow Fio more room. Porco, and the plane, exchange armament, a life preserver in Porco's line of work, for companionship. As Porco and Fio fly off, they converse about getting airborne via the new speaking tube. "How is the steering, Porco.""This is kind of like a tomboy, just like you."

In the big final dogfight with Curtis, both Porco's and Curtis' guns jam. They are reduced to flinging harsh word and spanners at one another. Finally, they land and Porco's human anger forces him to pummel Curtis to continue the fight. This is the most physical contact Porco has with anyone during the film. The airplane's failure compels Porco into physical interaction with Curtis and fully awakens Porco's dormant human self.

Porco Rosso is a recluse and his crimson airplane allows him to maintain that isolation. When it breaks down, Porco is forced from his self-imposed seclusion into greater interaction with the world and his own humanity. Porco's description of the great river of dead pilots flying off to the afterlife in their planes makes it evident that the plane and the pilot are inseparable, as machines do not usually have an afterlife. Thus it is little wonder that changes to the airplane motivate Porco to become human again. The function of Porco Rosso's red airplane in the film, Kurenai no Buta, alters from being a tool allowing Porco his privacy and distance from humanity to a tool that forces him to greater intimacy with humanity, eventually forcing him to reclaim his own.


Thumbnail of Porco signaling in Porco Rosso

Porco signaling (~28K)

Thumbnail of Porco and Fio banking in Porco Rosso

Porco and Fio banking (~29K)

Thumbnail of Gina amused by Curtis in Porco Rosso

Gina amused by Curtis (~40K)

Thumbnail of Fio and Mamma Aiuto in Porco Rosso

Fio and Mamma Aiuto (~43K)

Got something to say?


The Internet Movie Database