Features and Columns · Movies

‘Porco Rosso,’ PTSD, and Studio Ghibli’s Most Political Film

Better an incredibly charming bachelor pig than a fascist.
Porco Rosso
By  · Published on June 23rd, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores what makes Studio Ghibli’s 1992 film Porco Rosso so great.

I don’t think it’s fair to call Porco Rosso underrated.

Studio Ghibli‘s 1992 film boasts a 95% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7/10 on IMDb. It was well-received by audiences and critics alike and remains in high esteem decades after its release. This is definitely not a case of a film being dunked on by culture vultures despite some then-unrecognized value.

What folks mean, I think, when they toss around words like “underrated” in relation to Porco Rosso, is that the film doesn’t feel like it’s had its day in the sun. At least — or perhaps, especially — from the perspective of a Western audience. To boot, when there are so many unambiguously canonized films in Hayao Miyazaki’s catalog, it’s easy to look unsung in comparison.

This is a long walk to say that I have my semantic quibbles with calling Porco Rosso underrated. But I completely agree with the underlying sentiment: that Porco Rosso is something of an outlier within Ghibli’s animated output. It’s weird for Miyazaki (and the studio synonymous with his name) to make a film so grounded in reality: to set a film during a real-time period in a real place.

So, what can a movie about flying pigs teach us about fascism in the Italian interwar period? What makes Porco Rosso worthy of praise in the same breath as the likes of Howl’s Moving Castle or Kiki’s Delivery Service? The following video essay has some answers.

Beware visual and story spoilers for Porco Rosso, a film you should go see if you haven’t already.

Watch “Better a Pig than a Fascist”

Who made this?

This video essay on why Porco Rosso rules is by Accented Cinema, a Canadian-based YouTube video essay series with a focus on foreign cinema. You can subscribe to Accented Cinema for bi-weekly uploads here. You can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.