Day 29: Angel's Egg

Day 29 of Calloween Movie Month

Content warnings: religion/loss of faith, war, suicide, mention of interpretations involving sexual assault and pedophilia

Recommended?: Yes

Spoilers and discussion of many of the mentioned topics below. You have been warned.

Broken bones and eggshells crack all the same.

How the Haunting and Mysterious Angel's Egg Influenced Video Games

Angel's Egg (also known by it's Japanese title Tenshi No Tamago) is a film about a young girl in a desolate land protecting a large egg. She comes across a man with a strange weapon. Although he tags along with her, she's unsure about his intentions.

I've always loved anime and animation in general. I think, in the right hands, it's a wonderful artistic medium that can portray a wide array of complex emotions and situations in a way live action films are often unable to. Or at least unable to in as effective of a way. So when planning out my movies for the month, I knew I had to pick at lease one animated film. But people who are familiar with Angel's Egg may be wondering why I chose it over other more straightforwardly horrific pieces of animation. Especially considering Yoshitaka Amano, who's art is essential to the film's storytelling and world, has other films that more concretely fit into the horror genre. Many don't even consider it as such, but I do. Angel's Egg is half nihilistic fairy tale and half post apocalyptic horror story.

For something with it's 2 unnamed characters exchanging approximately 10 minutes of dialogue in it's sub-90 minute runtime, Angel's Egg is extremely narratively dense and rich with imagery and character beats to interpret. It does this not just through it's gorgeous and well realized animation and designs, which I posit are some of if not the most beautiful of all time, but through it's attention to detail in creating sensory immersion. It helped that I watched this alone in my room, so cold that the pile of blankets on top of me did not adequately dissuade the shivers taking hold, and so dark that the desk lamp I have beside my bed does little to justify being on unless absolutely necessary. I let this film wash over me, like ocean waves in the dead of night. But I do think even watching it in a position unlike mine, it will still pull you into itself.

It's so quiet and visually detailed that you can almost feel what the characters are feeling. Cold water sloshing around in an empty stomach. The way looking through a glass of water gives everything a blurry haze. Dirt and stone beneath bare feet. Breezy, loose cloth on a small body. The smooth feeling of an uncracked eggshell on calloused fingers. The sound of waves crashing and gentle water fountains in the dead of night. Fire bringing warmth and light into a cold dark cave. The cracks in broken stain glass bringing light and warmth into an empty church. Wind blowing over silent empty towns full of dilapidated buildings and crumbling stone pillars. A score that rides the line perfectly between somber storybooks and tense horror novels. Characters drowning in clinical whites and cold blues, in rusty browns and drab grays. All this works together to create sensory narratives and help you empathize with the characters by attempting to literally make you feel what they physically feel. Especially the girl.

Many people have interpreted this movie and especially the scene where the man breaks the girl's egg as a metaphor for sexual assault. I think that's a little distasteful, but I understand where it comes from. From what I understand, this was made after Mamoru Oshii lost his faith in Christianity. And I think that the allusions to particularly Christian religious symbolism show this well. When the man, a soldier, breaks the egg, he's not raping her. The egg isn't her virginity, or some stupid shit like that. It's a more general symbol of innocence, of life and the chance for life, and of faith. She sleepily fantasizes about an unseen creature inside the egg breathing and pressing it's wings to the sides of the shell. She dreams about it wanting to take flight. The man tells her shes imagining it. Hearing her own breath, or the wind, and mistaking it for life. When she sleeps that night beside him, a sign of her trust in him, he breaks it open and silently leaves her to deal with her own grief. She wakes up, seeing her dreams literally and metaphorically shattered. Most notably: there was nothing in the egg. All that time, she had not been protecting a future life, nor had she had a companion before the man who ruined her showed up. Everything she believed in, put her faith into, woke up for, survived for, lived for. It was all an empty shell.

She jumps into the water, kissing her inner child goodnight as she sinks into the depths. The small bubbles she used to be fascinated with as a child becoming the remnants of her last breath.

The man, a soldier, looks at the stone statues of rows of knights and feels nothing. He sees the statue of the young girl whose innocence he ruined and whose trust he betrayed, and for the first and final time, he feels remorse.

Humans will betray you, war will leave your body and soul desolate and hollow and your cities and homes ruined piles of rubble under your feet, god does not exist, everything you believe in is empty.

Everyone knows they must one day become an adult, but no human can ever truly be ready for when that day comes.

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