So I originally had one post planned for this movie. But it was way, way too long and I split it up to make this post and my previous post! My last post is a lot more of me expressing the internal ramble that I constantly had while watching Angel’s Egg, while this one is the more ‘review/analysis/actual thoughts that aren’t me yelling at my laptop screen in confusion’ post!
- Thoughts on Themes and Symbolism
Firstly, I would like to say that I am so glad that I went learnt about Christianity for 12 years because without it I would have no clue what was happening in this movie, or at least would struggle with it a lot more.
This movie is definitely an exploration on faith. There’s religious symbolism all the way throughout this movie with things like the story of Noah’s ark playing a key role in the plot. There’s also many religious symbols that are mentioned/featured in the film such as the cross and egg.
So it’s obvious the egg symbolises hope (because of the dove from Noah’s ark and you know, birds and eggs) and that it represents the girl’s blind faith. The girl is forced to mature (literally as she becomes an adult after falling off the cliff) when the egg is revealed to have nothing inside it to show her loss of faith and even potentially, the loss of that innocence that children especially tend to have when they’re younger and believe whatever they are told. She even protected the egg and held onto it like it was her own, and this is her literally cling to her false hope to only have it broken later. This is one of the reasons why I think that she cries after finding the broken egg – because her faith system has come crashing down around her – and the other reason would be because there’s nothing much worse that being betrayed by a person you trusted. And that’s exactly what happened in this film. The fact that the guy is the one to break the egg could be some referencing to how religious followers place their trust in religious leaders, scripture etc. and sometimes, that trust is betrayed and rattles the followers.
The guy though has obviously lost his faith. He is way more skeptical that the girl and just seems really tired at this point. It’s like he’s had enough disappointment in his life and doesn’t want any more false hope like the girl has. He’s waited a long time for the bird to come and he knows that it never has and probably never will. He expresses this perfectly to the girl when she is hugging the egg and talking about how she can hear its winds flapping in the air and its heartbeat because his responses essentially debunk the things that she’s saying. He tells her that it’s, “just the wind,” and other logical explanations like that. I thought that this scene could also be showing that faith shouldn’t be, in a way, romanticised. For example, obviously it’s about the blind faith that he girl has, but even the way she describes her hope for the egg is very lyrical while the guy’s explanations about what is happening are very blunt. She has this almost ‘fantastic’ opinion on what the egg will become and how she can, “hear its wings flying across the sky.”
I also thought having the cross be the object which was used by the guy to crack open the egg was interesting. The cross is a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection and Easter Sunday is all about hope – even Jesus is considered to represent hope. So to have the symbol of Christianity, a symbol of hope, be the thing to crush the girl’s blind faith placed in the egg, that’s a definite statement there.
- Thoughts on the Characters
The characters are drawn to be very expressive. Their emotions are easily conveyed through the use of colour, the drawings of their face and body language and occasionally through dialogue as well.
I like that neither of the characters get characterised as villainous too. Despite that the guy abuses the girl’s trust when he breaks the egg, neither are shown to be necessarily wrong or right in their opinions (especially considering that you could technically say that the guy is the ‘antagonist’ or the story because he stands in direct opposition to the girl’s desires), and I feel like this story is more about their individual journeys with their own faith than anything else. It would also feel wrong to condemn one of the characters over the other for their beliefs. And while the movie suggests that blind faith is not a good thing, because we are never really given any explanation as to why the characters believe in what they do, we can only hope to understand both their sides of the story and how they justified their actions. I mean, we never even get an answer to who the guy is and we can only inference that the girl is the ‘angel’ that is referred to in the title.
I did think though that is was a bit weird at the start of the film for the girl to be a child. But then I realised that it definitely works better than if she was older. She grows and learns throughout this film and has to learn to let go of her blind faith – and this suits the developmental journey of a child well. The guy however seems to be a soldier and is older, which could imply that he has seen more and experienced more in his life. Which explains why he questions thing and is much more skeptical of everything the the girl is. She hasn’t had any experience to ruin her blind faith yet, while he’s probably had plenty of things knock him back before that he’s had to fight his way through. Even their personality contrasts helps to establish these different approaches to faith they both have – as the girl has hope and blind faith still in her young years and has to literally mature at the end of the film into an adult when she realises that her faith has been misplaced. While the man is a lot more stoic and resigned.
I’d also like to know why the girl is so pale (she may not get sun?) because I couldn’t really figure out if this was some artistic choice or some symbolic choice? I don’t know. But I had the thought that maybe it could also be one way of showing that the girl believes in things that are ‘otherworldly’ such as the faith she has for the egg and so by drawing her as more ‘otherworldly’, this contrasts her against the man as he is tanned physically and faith-wise is practically the opposite of her.
- Thoughts About the Plot
It gives no solid answers and everything is pretty much up for interpretation. So it can leave us with a lot more questions than answers… Though I do think that the story and the characters’ journeys are conveyed very well throughout the film, predominately through the animation, music and little bit of dialogue. Nothing is really explained in the first half of the film though as it seems to be more story world building part than anything else and works to introduce the characters in order to build upon everything as we reach the climax and conclusion of the animation. Though this first half was really what raised a lot of questions about the movie for me before it launched into its explanation of what was going on and hints as to what happened to the world to make it this way, so it definitely made watching the movie more interesting for me since I had no clue what was going on.
- Thoughts on Animation/Music
So if it wasn’t already clear, I love the way this story is told! The visual storytelling approach isn’t something that I’ve really experienced a lot of before, but I think that it’s great. There’s clearly been a lot of thought that’s gone behind every choice made in this film to make it impactful.
The times when there’s dialogue also seem to suit the characters well as their body language, tone of voice and expressions all align. Though to be honest the dialogue was actually what confused me the most. Like where she started talking about fish as the soldiers ran past? And since we didn’t have anything to really go off of about why the world is the way that it is and what the laws and confinements of this story world are, it was pretty baffling. The solders were were clearly faceless for a reason, though I can’t really come up with an explanation other than that they are waiting to be freed and so the only thing that they can do to try to make this freedom a reality for them is to try and fight against the fish? Maybe the soldiers don’t believe though in the cause they’re fighting or have been trying for so long that they’ve given up hope? That they view their efforts as futile like how their grapples are useless against the fish as they can’t pin one down. The only purpose the soldiers seem to have in their lives is to defeat these fish because the soldiers are only awake when the fish are – so this could emphasis how pointless everything is (which really worlds well with the depressing sort of mood this animation has).
And the music was perfect! In parts the music really did contribute to evoking an emotion response from the audience to create a tense or sad (etc.) mood from the audience. But other times the music seemed to more just be noise (like the sirens). The different choices made for the soundtrack on this film really did help with the visual storytelling though.
And finally, the aesthetic was perfect. From the dark colours used to the animation style to the Victorian architecture – it all suits the ‘dark fantasy’ world so well.
So I think that I managed to get a decent grasp on what was going on throughout the film. And I think that the points I’m talking about here have at least some evidence to back up my interpretations on what was happening.
Though I don’t think that this animation is really meant to be understand in its entirety, rather than make on impression upon the audience. And that means that there’s many, many different interpretations out there of this film! 🙂
Definite spoilers ahead! (As essentially this post is the same thing as watching the movie with me…)
Angel’s Egg is a 1985 film released by Tokuma Shoten. It was a collaboration between the artist Yoshitaka Amano and direct Mamoru Oshii. The film follows a young girl who protects an egg under her clothes as she lives in a decaying gothic city. One day she meets a mysterious man who manages to earn her trust, and they discuss religious beliefs.
- Okay so far this seems really cool and dark
- Man this music really sets the creepy mood… I’m getting a real ghost/tragedy/thriller vibe
- It’s exactly 1 minute and 42 seconds in and I can already tell that this is a masterpiece
- This is reminding me quite a bit of The Thief and the Cobbler but that may just be because the two title characters never speak (expect for that one line the Cobbler has)
- He looks so done
- Wow wow wow no you do NOT JUST GET TO TRANSITION FROM THAT STRAIGHT TO THAT!
- I’ve decided that I love visual storytelling
- The siren wailing things and the whooping noises and the FRAMES LINGERING ON THE ANIMATION GOSH WHY IS THIS SO MOVING???
- Black screen with mood music? Sign me up
- I’m going to be honest and say that I have no clue what’s going on. I didn’t read a synopsis or anything before launching in to watching this film. I probably should have
- I love the world design. It’s so dark, dystopian and creepy!
- I feel like watching this movie on my laptop, or even a phone, is a better idea for me than a large screen. I think that I’d get bored of all the lingering frames if it was on a large TV screen
- Unholy screeches and symbolic looking sleeping things going on? Okay now you have my full attention
- I take that back about the dystopian stuff. This world seems more post-apocalyptic if anything. I wonder what happened to it…?
- There has been a total of exactly 2 lines said throughout this film in the first 15 minutes and oddly enough, I’m okay with it
- Anyone else feel like there’s a lot more meaning going on in this film than I’m picking up on? They show the exact same image at different angles for a long time and stop the music a lot
- Boy do I love contrast
- All the actions and emotions… Man I really need to watch more stuff with visual storytelling!!!
- I feel like these strangely shaped jugs are important to her and I just don’t know why yet…
- What are those bodies doing there? Obviously there’s something off (maybe sinister or depressing) about them since they just blend with the background, but what’s the backstory?
- Hmm… nice gothic architecture. I don’t know why I felt like I needed to comment upon that. But I did.
- I don’t know either sister. But on a more serious note, I do want to know who he is. He’s got a cross so I’m assuming that’s a good sign? And why is she a child? And what’s he doing with the red things? Why’s he after the egg? He clearly knows something.
- Wait, do I not get to hear him explain to her who he is after she asked him and now she’s walking with him instead of running away like she previously was?!
- Okay never mind I take that back. All is right with the world again.
- He’s still following her? He seems like he doesn’t want to hurt her and just wants something with the egg? So I’m guessing it’s hers and she doesn’t want anyone to take it away and break it?
- Okay so I thought that the soldiers were just kind of some general tribute or hint about why this world is the way it is? But they seem to be protecting themselves from these fish or something? Since they’re not bothered with the only two colourful characters? What’s wrong with the fish then? And aren’t they just shadows?
- I’m halfway through this movie and am so confused. I’m guessing there’s some more religious undertones about to come into the movie too because that’s a stained glass window so you know, church?
- Somebody needs to explain what’s up with the fish and the soldiers to me. I need a full world explanation and history. Since the fish don’t seem to be hurting anyone? And is the girl in the Church for sanctuary or something? I guess that makes sense since she’s probably the title’s angel?
- Ooh I know I complained about this up above but know I’m liking the move made to not have any of the guy’s answers shown to the audience. So when she asks who he is and asks him to promise not to do anything to her egg and we don’t get to see his response, that definitely makes it more interesting to watch. It seems like he must give her the responses she wants though since she lets him tag alongs. But it’s mysterious for us and we don’t get to gauge whether or not he’s being honest
- Okay well this dialogue is just confusing me more. I need answers.
- Hey, I want answers too dude. But neither of us are getting what we want today.
- And the jugs have made a reappearance! What for? I have no idea!
- Great. So the characters don’t know who they are and what they’re doing either. Great.
- Ooh so the bird is the dove from the story of Noah’s ark! SO THEN ARE THEY LIVING UNDERWATER AND THAT’S WHY THE FISH ARE THEY AND THE HUMANS HAVE JUST ADAPTED? OR THEY LIVE ABOVE LAND AND ARE TRYING TO FIND THE BIRD TO FREE THEM FROM THE LAND THEY LIVE IN? I THINK I CAN KIND OF UNDERSTAND THE VERY BASICS OF WHAT’S GOING ON??? ARE THEY ONLY AWAKE WHEN THE FISH COME OUT? THAT EXPLAINS WHY THE SOLDIERS SEEM TO BE FROZEN MOST OF THE TIME
- Hmm… I sense a theme of identity about to shine through in this animation… Though that makes more sense that the humans (soldiers) are being ‘oppressed’ in a way by the fish and these two main characters and the fish are the only ones left to know either what happened. Or the main characters are the only ones left who are a part of this post Noah’s ark world – which the humans don’t fit into it and therefore can only walk when the fish are awake – but everyone seems to have such limited information that they’re willing to share with the audience despite that they seem fully informed as to what’s going on
- Well that’s depressing…
- OKAY WAIT SO THEN THAT’S THE ARK??? THAT MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE NOW
- Going to be honest and say that this scene is confusing me a bit
- This frame and music has been going on forever tbh I’m actually editing my notes on this movie at this point because despite that there’s music and some flickering between some transitioning looking things – I can get bored easily
- DANGER ALERT DANGER ALERT IT’S JUST GONE DARK AND THEY LINGERED ON THAT FRAME BEFORE WHERE HE HELD HER HANDS AND THEN THE START OF THIS FILM WAS SOMEONE’S PALE HAND BEING CRUSHED I’M SCARED FOR HER AND FOR WHAT HE’S ABOUT TO DO AND THE WAY HE’S MOVING SO MECHANICAL LIKE HE’S UNEMOTIONAL TO WHAT HE’S ABOUT TO DO URGH I’M SCARED IF YOU COULDN’T TELL ALREADY AND THERE’S SOMBRE AND THEN NOTHING FOR MUSIC THIS SCARES ME
- Stuff’s about to go down! Do you not hear that dramatic music building up and his stance!
- Ooh I like that fact that as he brought his staff down onto where the egg was we didn’t get to see it or hear it so we don’t know what happens
- So the town seemed to flood? As the soldiers stood frozen as statues as water rose around them and the buildings distorted to look like they were underwater? And does this sudden dark mark on his face mean anything since it wasn’t there before?
- Ahh poor baby she doesn’t know what’s happened probably to her egg and where the guy’s one. She’d have to be so confused… And she seemed to trust him too…
- Oh no… And the unholy screeching and wailing… She’s so distressed…
- Her falling off a cliff was a DRAMATIC TO SAY THE LEAST THIS HAS BEEN A TURN OF EVENTS AND HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN SHE RAN STRAIGHT OFF OF IT???
- Special sprity things seem to be happening… Okay so from what I gather, she must be the angel then (hence Angel’s Egg) and it was her egg and she was going to do something with it to stop whatever was going on in the world? And that’s why she looks older now because she’s conceiving the egg put for some reason in this the bubbles turned to eggs? (Though there did seem to be one she was clutching around her stomach in the water)
- Okay so these are eggs then that she must have been caring for and waiting for one to hatch or something? Which is why this final egg shot is in the Church? Because that one she had was ready to hatch and now it’s gone before it was ready? Was she the one who was meant to determine if the world was ready or not to leave the ark then? And she didn’t think that they were and wanted to wait for the bird to be ready then?
- Okay feathers = angel wings + bird. Which makes sense I think?
- Okay again definitely something religious here but they’re all stones and this guy knows about this weird ‘Atlantis’ thing coming out of the water and the stone with the egg looks like the girl? So that’s why he wanted her egg? Because he thought she was the girl and the egg would set the world free?
- Wait that’s sand?! So did he succeed with what whatever it was that he wanted to do then?!
- Hold on a minute those look like pathways along the land? So did someone leave a trial behind to find they’re way back or is that people trying to move inland? Oh wait no… it’s probably just the eggs rising up from the ground after the girl dies. Never mind me!
- Hmm this geography is confusing me…
- OH WAIT IS THAT NOT ACTUALLY LAND BUT THE BOTTOM OF THE ARK OR SOMETHING AND WE’RE LOOKING UP AT IT FROM THE OCEAN FLOOR?! OR IS IT SOME SUPERNATURAL BEING LOOKING DOWN ON THE PLTO OF LAND WHICH NOW HAS THE EGGS RAISED OUT OF THE GROUND? I DON’T KNOW SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME
Well thank-you to everyone who put up with this messy post of mine! And as you would have read, throughout this movie I was pretty confused while watching a lot of it. I also didn’t actually put in many of the times when it did click for me and (I think) I understood what was going on plot-wise because this post contains my first impressions. So my take on all the symbolism in the film also isn’t in this post. But because this post is already super long I’m going to upload the review/analysis part tomorrow! 🙂