Friday, 11 April 2008

Angel's Egg (Mamoru Oshii, 1985)

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(engl. subtitles included)

"Jan 4th, 1998. Raddison Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow.
I am at the 'Shinnenkai' anime convention, and have spent an alarmingly large proportion of the last 72 hours awake, hungry, spending money and watching Japanese animation.

My friends and I go to the final screening of the convention. It is an anime entitled 'Angel's Egg', which I have not heard of before. Watching it, I am enthralled. Beautiful surreal deChirico-esqe imagery, little dialogue, not much plot to speak of. Somehow the whole dreamlike experience is added to by the fact that I am drifting in and out of conciousness [sic]. I was later unsure if I dreamt some parts of the film." (via)

I’ve seen “Angel’s Egg” about five times. It is among my most cherished movies. I cannot bring myself to watch it more often as it tends to be a most devastating experience. Quite abstrusely so, for it mostly is devoid of plot and light and speech and conventions to hold onto. On the contrary, it spouts symbolism and surrealistic imagery and the gentle sounds of water, and has a heavy air of inscrutability, obscurity really, about it. On the subject of surrealism, I'm not entirely sure how deChirico fits here, but then I'm not too acquainted with his œuvre, and I guess, from looking at some of his works, they do express a certain drear and desertedness similar to that of "Angel's Egg". The first time I've seen it doesn't have have too much of a relevance anymore as I think I just wasn't ready for such a work at that time. A couple of years later, after a quite drastic personal metamorphosis, I watched it again and ended up with dakryorrhoe as the credits rolled to Yoshihiro Kanno's "Prelude" (really, that is such a horribly touching piece and I definitely gather it among my favourite piano works next to Satie's third Gnossienne and Takemitsu's "Romance", to name just a few). I couldn't sleep that night either.

You see a girl (however old she actually is) during her humdrum wanderings through a desolate, Europeanesque town, protectively carrying a fairly huge egg with her, looking for appropriate jars to fill with water, roaming through abandoned houses in search of food. There is one scene where you see her adorably licking something like jam off her fingers. Further on, a little later after having encountered an apparently young man (again, who knows how old he is) bearing a huge cross over his shoulder (which actually looks more like a technical apparatus of some peculiar sort), there occurs something like a snippet of comical relief when he offers her protection under his cape as the fishermen approach. She, the independent and precocious lady that she is, haughtily declines and walks on.
The ultimate incident, then, where everything, quite frankly and inevitably, leads to (but which I naturally won't spoil for you, ha), is preceded by a cutless sequence where you see the girl sleeping on what could be interpreted as some kind of altar, the man sitting on the floor with his back against the “bed” in front of a fire which in the process of about three minutes slowly expires. This is of course kindergarten compared to the country road traffic jam in Godard’s “Weekend”, heh. Infact, Russian director Alexander Sokurow quite recently made the first full-length filmed in one shot.

I urge you to watch "Angel's Egg", preferably when you're in a particularly gloomy mood and find yourself unable to sleep...


Anonymous said...

You arose me attention, Jessica. I have to see this movie.


Ochyming said...


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