Porco Rosso Wins!

The latest poll is closed, and Porco Rosso won out. It was a very tight race, as you'd expect it to be, but Miyazaki's 1992 Studio Ghibli movie is the one you most want to see at University of California-Berkeley. As I've written before, I've already seen Totoro and Mononoke on the big screen, albeit the dubbed versions. If I could only afford to go to one movie, it would be to one I haven't seen in a theatre before, which would probably wind up being Porco Rosso.

Since we're in a festive mood, here are some screenshots from the movie. They come from the excellent Ghibli website Buta Connection, which proves itself invaluable time and time again. Too bad I'm not fluent in French, eh?

If you want to introduce someone to Studio Ghibli and the films of Hayao Miyazaki, Porco Rosso is the perfect choice. Be sure to watch it in the Japanese- or French-language versions.


Dave said...

It seems like you are excluding the english language Disney version?

Any reason why?

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Actually, I was trying to write a few words on the Disney dub, but I didn't want to get side-tracked on another topic. I just couldn't fit it into a small space for this post.

Rest assured, one of these days, I'll go into depth on the Disney dub for Porco Rosso. On the upside, Michael Keaton's performance was terrific. The rest of the cast, and some of the script decisions...hmm, not so much, and that's the downside.

Again, I just wanted a short post, and I'll go to depth on this subject later.

Geoff N said...

Let me start off by saying I have not seen any of the 4 films in theaters. That said, I voted for Porco Rosso even though it isn't my favorite of the 4 options.
However, I just felt that of the choices, Porco would gain the most by being viewed on the big screen.

In regards to the English Dub, I agree about Keaton, he did a wonderful job. I haven't watched the French Dub, just the Japanese, but I do agree with the issue of script modifications, I hate it when they do that. It's one thing to translate something so it makes sense in a different language, but it's another when they modify it to such a point that it changes the essence of what is said. (especially when they change things as a sensoring tool)

Lastly, "Up" is absolutely wonderful, wow...just wow. It might get my vote as the best mix of heart and humor in a Pixar film. The first 15 minutes of the film are incredibly powerful. Pete Docter may now own the Top 2 spots on my Pixar Rankings, but I'm not sure yet if I can put it ahead of Wall-E...that Robot Romance was just so darn cute.

Dave said...

Now is a good time to go into depth on the topic?

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Ah, yes, Porco Rosso's Disney dub. Thanks for reminding me. I'm sure you're interested in hearing my opinions on the matter.

Dubbing vs subtitles has always been a controvercial subject in anime, especially Studio Ghibli. People march into their respective camps, dig in, and prepare for endless trench warfare. My opinions on the matter have been pointed in the past, and I am trying to be kinder and more accepting of others views.

That's not to say I don't wish to get into depth on the issue; I just want to be careful without becoming preachy and smug and full of myself.

I really have to watch the Disney Porco Rosso again to refresh my memory, but I always had mixed feeling on Disney's soundtrack. I thought Michael Keaton was superb; he understood his character perfectly - Marco as Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. To my ears, Keaton is as good as Moriyama (Japan) and Jean Reno (France).

The rest of the cast? Hmm, not so much. When I learned of the actors cast for the project, I was thrilled, because I thought they were perfect for their roles. Cary Elwes, especially, was perfect for Curtis (he wants to be Errol Flynn, but he's too aloof and clueless to pull it off).

That's why I was so disappointed, even shocked, at the Kentucky accent Elwes delivered. That was just wrong, completely wrong. Disney should understand the first rule of comedy - play it straight. Instead, they opted for conventional "cartoon" voices, and it really weakened the material. There were other examples of this in the voice cast; again, I really need to watch the movie again to see what still resonates with me. Perhaps my views have mellowed over time? I really can't say.

There were the usual script revising by the Don & Cindy Hewitt, things like looping themes and reinforcing lines more than necessary; the flattening of characters and broad themes; the need to add dialog to silent moments; and the urge to give away the big secrets.

Aha! Now I remember! That was the thing that really got to me. Disney gave away the emotional climax to the movie. I honestly don't know why that happened. I don't think it was intended to be cruel or mean - Disney certainly isn't out to sabotage Ghibli, that's a childish notion - but they tossed out the climactic revelation in the scene where young Marco witnesses the ghost planes (the Roald Dahl scene).

I'd really like to ask the Hewitts about that sometime. I'm very curious. Perhaps they saw Porco Rosso in a different light than I. Perhaps I just look at everything from abstract angles. Perhaps I just watched too many Criterion Collection movies?

Hmm. This was only supposed to be a short recap, instead of a longer post, heh heh. I will have to write a proper blog essay on Porco Rosso's US dub.

Anonymous said...

I know I've said this before elsewhere, but I'll put it up for comment here too. When it comes to foreign films, I'm one of those in the subs camp (actually the original language camp, but I digress).

Being the airplane pilot geek that I am my only real complaint with the Porco video subs is during the scene where Porco and Fio are discussing the changes Fio is planning for the plane's design.

Miyazaki put some effort into the technical dialog here, using terms like "angle of incidence" and "monocoque" in just the way that these two aviation pros would be expected to use them.

I understand that subs often need to be paraphrased in order to both fit the screen and the amount of time available (video subs especially so, since the screen is so much smaller - theatrical subs can use a smaller point size and still be readable on a large screen). But to me, the video subs here have been overly simplified and result in some rather clunky translation.

Examples: a Porco line from the theatrical print (I've been fortunate enough to have both seen and run Porco in 35mm in a theater) for this scene reads, "Give me another half degree of incidence" but on video it comes out as, "Tilt the wings back half a degree for me." The Japanese dialog uses the term "angle of incidence" ("toritsukekaku").

In Japanese, Fio describes the wing structure as "monocoque" ("monokkoku") and the theatrical subs use the term, but the video subs come out as, "The wings were single-structure.") Huh? No real pilot or engineer would talk that way, and Miyazaki certainly didn't write those lines that way. To me it's like the video sub writers decided to water down the lines to some lower audience level. Yeah, I'm a geek, but those subs and that translation bug me.

Miyazaki expected his audience to "get it." Why couldn't the sub writers honor that expectation?

Ja ne,


Dave said...

@Paul: The Disney dub uses "angle of incidence" for sure I remember. Haven't checked out the subs on there in a while - don't remember.

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