Angel’s Egg – Who Are You?
In an effort to watch more anime films, I’m hoping to start a feature on this blog involving collaboration posts, analyzing anime movies past and present. Today we’ll take a look at Angel’s Egg, a rather artistic film from 1985. Draggle will be the co-author for this post! Draggle runs a great blog that updates very regularly, covering several shows episodically–so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already. But for now, let’s see if we can make sense of this Angel’s Egg film.
So… What Is This?
Cholisose: There is very little plot to this film, and not really any significant character development either. The way I see it, this is an atmospheric film–a movie meant to elicit emotions and impressions from the viewer. It’s not meant to be an entertaining story. And as such, trying to stick this film into a specific genre (other than “artsy”) would be rather difficult. While watching Angel’s Egg, I wondered periodically what I was supposed to get out of it. Is there a message to this film? There’s all sorts of vivid, powerful imagery all throughout it. Perhaps everything in the movie is meant to be symbolic? If so, what does it all mean? Interestingly there are many interpretations for this film, but at the end of the day perhaps the film can still be greatly appreciated when it’s just being watched for what it is. After all, must there be a meaning to everything in the first place? For an engaging experience, perhaps we only need to witness the situation of the film’s two characters and just… “soak in” the film’s atmosphere.
draggle: As Cholisose says, this is an atmospheric film. I agree 100%. And “atmospheric” is a wonderful euphemism for “unbelievably boring.” We’re treated to lengthy scenes of people sleeping and walking around aimlessly. The film’s climax centers on watching the sun rise and set. Most of the movie doesn’t even involve speech. The first time I tried to watch this, I literally fell asleep halfway through.It reminds me a lot of Aria, in which the whole purpose of the show is to soak in the atmosphere.
A Cast of Two
“Can you hear it?”
“I can hear it. A faint sound of breathing.”
“That’s the sound from your own chest.”
“And the sound of wings. It must be dreaming of flying in the sky.”
“That’s the sound of the wind outside.”
“It’s almost time. Right now it’s in here, dreaming… but you’ll see too… very soon…”
Cholisose: I personally saw the two main characters as foils for one another. They were both sympathetic, but they each represented different things to me. The young girl exhibited hope while the man presented a realist viewpoint (“Unless you break an egg, you cannot know what is inside of it”). Visually the two characters are essentially opposites of one another, save only for one thing: their white hair. Deep down, it seems the man really did want to believe there was still a bird left from the ancient times, but yet he still felt it necessary to break the egg. At the end of the film the man has a sad, hollow look on his face as he sees the young girl has passed away and somehow become memorialized as a statue on the giant flying machine. But perhaps he still yearns for some of that young girl’s hope? Her dying breath seemed to have brought many more eggs into existence, so maybe it’s not as bleak and hopeless of an ending as it could have been.
draggle: As Cholisose said, the two are foils for one another. The girl chooses to live in hope, even if it may be futile. The man confronts the hopelessness of the world and moves on. He sure took his jolly time at moving on though.
Cholisose: This is definitely not a film for everyone. And even amongst those who enjoy “different” films, this one may not click for some people. Everyone’s experience will probably be pretty different for this film, since it’s pretty much up to the viewers to decide what they’ll get out of it all. For me, I saw Angel’s Egg as a sort of overview of the human experience. The young girl caring for the large egg, for example, elicited delicate, nurturing feelings. The sequence involving the futile attempts of the faceless masses to capture the shadows of giant fish elicited rather frustrated emotions. And the man’s decision to destroy the egg was thoroughly upsetting, yet also disheartening. Just giving some thought to why the characters acted the way they did made this film worth watching–or at least it gave me some things to ponder about regarding human nature, perhaps.
The film’s extremely slow pacing seems designed to allow (if not encourage) viewers to ponder what they’re seeing, hearing, and feeling as they experience Angel’s Egg. The memorable character designs give off perpetually weary expressions. The intricately-drawn landscapes are massive, intimidating, steeped in mystery and history, and for the most part are completely devoid of life. And the rather haunting (yet awe-inspiring?) background music was interspersed with long periods of silence. All of these elements combine to create the pervading atmosphere of Angel’s Egg, making it a fine example of animation’s artistic potential to leave a truly lasting impression on its viewers.
draggle: The movie is certainly driven by atmosphere, but I feel like the word “storytelling” might be a bit of a stretch. It does induce emotions (boredom is an emotion, right?) but the entire story could have been told in five minutes. It did give the viewers a lot of time to ponder what was occurring. I’m not sure we needed all that time though. I’d argue that that Angel’s Egg is what you get when you let the animation’s artistic potential get in the way of storytelling.
draggle: I found Angel’s Egg both dull and disappointing. But if you struggle with insomnia, you might want to check it out. Thanks to Cholisose for inviting me to join in watching. I had been planning to watch this anyway, so no big loss.
Cholisose: As you can see, this film won’t impress everyone. Sorry, Draggle! But at least if you’re having trouble sleeping, you can give Angel’s Egg another go. And perhaps in your dreams you’ll be visited by the Ghost of Anime Past, who will potentially move you with a philosophical, literary, or religious interpretation of the Angel’s Egg film. Or perhaps just point out another film you’d like better. XD
For those of you wanting to prepare for the film collab posts in the next few weeks, feel free to watch these three films some time in the near future: The Wings of Honneamise, Loups=Garous, and Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo. For those of you who have seen Angel’s Egg though, what are your thoughts? Do you think the film had a specific message? And if so, what did you make of it? Do you think there was anything in the egg?