I’ve been thinking of the sky as a site, as a place or as many places and watched Hayao Miyazaki’s film ‘Porco Rosso’ (Studio Ghibli, 1992) a couple of weeks ago, I found it by accident on TV on a Saturday afternoon. Set between the two world wars, a loner pilot who has been turned into a pig fights sea pirate’s in his airplane, and his young engineer Gina helps him to rebuild the tired aircraft. (see wikipedia for a better description of the story than this)
The animation of the aerial movements of the planes is amazing, the detail of the clouds as they fly, fight and dive through and around them and the way the cloud is almost dragged with the plane as they move through it as if it were a more viscous medium, all situated the film in the movement and life of the cloud. The sky becomes the set for the animation, a place which Porco Rosso knows intimately, and where the detail of the cloud and the landscape viewed from above is ever changing. Scenes where planes fight are at times clear skied, but then gradually amongst cloud the visibility changes and reduces, changing the strategy of the battle. This specific and detailed representation of movement through the sky, and action that takes place in the sky is unusual, the sky becomes as much a part of the film as the action.