Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest working filmmakers.
Not just in animation, although that is what he’s known for, but in all of film, in my opinion. Miyazaki has created a body of work that is both profound and artistically gorgeous, working in big mythological tropes. His work transcends age and language and culture. It is universal, easily understood by children but with enough depth to reward repeat viewings by adults. His world view is uncommonly human, and his films deal with themes about who we are, who we should be, and who we must resist the urge to become.
There are films of his that have become iconic, characters that have become immediately recognizable around the world, and there are other films that are not particularly well-known, but that are equally worthy and interesting. There are few filmmakers with the breadth of filmography that Miyazaki has, and when even your relatively obscure titles are fantastic, it’s a sign of just how innate his talent really is.
“Porco Rosso” has never been one of the films I really hear people rave about when Miyazaki’s name comes up. I know a few hardcore fans who appreciate the story of a fighter ace who, dehumanized by his experience with war, literally turns into an anthropomorphic pig. The film feels like a classic Hollywood movie from the heyday of the studio system, and it’s one of the greatest expressions of Miyazaki’s career-long obsession with flight. The lead is one of Miyazaki’s most prickly and particular creations, which may be the reason people don’t embrace him the same way they embrace characters like Totoro or Kiki or Ponyo. It’s not easy to love Porco Rosso, but it’s worth it. He is an amazing character, and just looking at the actors who have voiced him in different international dubs of the character (both Jean Reno and Michael Keaton have played him), you can tell he’s not the typical lead for a “children’s film.”
If I were to hear that Studio Ghibli was developing a sequel to “Kiki’s Delivery Service” or “My Neighbor Totoro” or one of the more conventional adventures stories like “Nausicaa” or “Castle In The Sky,” that would make sense to me because I am conditioned, like most American moviegoers, to think that only commercial success leads to sequels. Miyazaki, though, doesn’t think like that. In a Cut magazine interview that was translated and run, in part, on Ain’t It Cool over the weekend, Miyazaki dropped a major bombshell for fandom when he suggested that he’s got an idea for a “Porco Rosso” sequel set during the Spanish Civil War.
It’s worth reading Scott Green’s article for insight into the interview, where Miyazaki suggested that Ghibli needs to score some direct hits with their next few releases or else the studio may be done producing new films and simply turn into a copyright management firm for things that already exist. Is he serious? It’s hard to tell, and Miyazaki is notorious for making very dry comments that are misinterpreted.
For now, just the idea of possibly seeing a second “Porco Rosso” is enough to give all Miyazaki fans hope, and I’ll be waiting on pins and needles to see if this is really going to happen.
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