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Angel's Egg

Feb 20, 2012

*This review contains spoilers, though I'd like to acknowledge that I personally don't think it matters at all when you see a movie like this*

Fundamentally speaking, Angel's Egg is a movie with such an abundance of eccentric metaphors and symbolism that every individual will make his own subjective interpretations based on the minimal amount of clues that are given. In the end, realizing that there are no true answers to be found is as frustrating as it is sorrowful but, admittedly, I have a profound feeling that the plethora of varying theories regarding its true nature becomes Angel's Egg true beauty.

Story: 8/10

In a gloomy and desolate city, a little girl wanders throughout the abandoned streets with a mysterious egg neatly placed underneath her clothes. She runs into a swordsman traveling in solitude and they end up visiting a bizarre and gothic place where the girl seems to live. Many questions are raised, most prominently regarding the contents of the egg, but also what has happened to their flawed memories and conceptions of identity.

Mamoru Oshii has created a story that progresses at an almost alarmingly slow rate. Several frames are present on the screen for more than a minute each without any form of dialogue or change to speak of in a fashion that's far from as annoying as it should be. Where the infinitely abstract story momentarily fails to impress you, these moments are where the true narrational strength lies. Said strength can be defined with the use of one single word: mood setting. The pacing is extremely slow, and the lack of a concrete story may strike some as unappealing, but few will deny that Angel's Egg exhibits a gloomy and ominous tone that few other titles can match.

Animation: 8/10

This is the first time I've seen anything produced by Studio Deen differ so fundamentally from the norms of Japanese animation. Angel's Egg does not only boast high production values, but also a fluidity as well as a visually splendid tone that excels at staging gothic streets in an abandoned and lonely world. This benevolent creativity as well as the beautiful character designs results in a memorable ride that outshines most modern titles, not objectively but artistically.

Sound: 8.5/10

Just like the characters themselves, the voice acting for each role is of complete irrelevance. Angel's Egg relies heavily on facial expressions to express the relatively muted amount of feelings and thoughts the characters may have, and dialogue is rarely put to use. 

As dull as it may sound, this reluctance to rely on verbal communication is actually one of the movies' greatest virtues that acts in accordance with the otherwise melancholic touch of the narrative and visuals. With music of such extravagance, and a plethora of suggestive sounds though, you don't need to worry at all; the soundtrack is haunting and creepily effective. 

Characters: Irrelevant

One word can sum up the characters; irrelevant. Besides the metaphorical parallels one might draw from the non-existent characterization, the story follows a girl and a swordsman. That's all there is to it, and as such, giving a rating in this section seems both futile and impossible.

Personal interpretation (entirely subjective):

The swordsman recites the story of Noah's ark for the girl and radiates a curiosity to know what's inside the egg. In the gothic depths of the mysterious building that the girl seems to inhabit, a tree is carved into the wall and strikes him as familiar. He then proceeds to say that he remembers the tree from somewhere but acknowledges that it's been so long that he cannot remember where and how it was. He even states that it might have been in a dream but mentions that the tree grows by consuming the life within the earth. At the top of the tree there is a mysterious bird that is directly linked to it, and in the same building there is a huge skeleton of a bird that the girl presents to him.

Later on, the girl mentions that she found the egg and believes that it contains a bird (that might be the direct reincarnation of the bird from the legend of the tree) and this causes the swordsman to steal and destroy the egg from her, despite having promised not to harm it. Why does he do this? I have two theories:

1: His intentions are merely to find out the contents of the egg. He mentions earlier on that one cannot know what lies inside it if one does not break it.

2: He believes that the bird in the egg is a direct reincarnation of the bird that shared a connection with the life consuming tree. He believes that if it is allowed to hatch, the tree will once again begin to consume the life of earth.

When the girl learns of his betrayal she runs out and ends up falling from a cliff in either a suicide or an accident. It's possible that the egg represented child-bearing, as the girl used to carry it around underneath her clothes which made her look pregnant. As she falls from the cliff she spots another version of herself that resembles a woman more than a girl. This might indicate that the egg represented her childlike innocence which was crushed by the then antagonized swordsman. This allowed her to perform a process of maturity that ends up producing a huge number of new eggs that gives further credit to the thought that the original egg might symbolize the virtue of child-bearing. 

This is all I've got right now as I really need to think more about the ending and eventually re-watch it.

Overall: 8/10

I was skeptical at first since these animated eccentricities usually attract the love of art-house lovers but fail to provide a more broad appeal. I ended up loving it though, thanks to the excellent production values as well as the surprisingly captivating story that opens up possibilities for an endless number of personal interpretations. This is absolutely a movie that gives birth to discussion, and I'd love to see what other theories might exist out there. If you're in the mood for something thought provoking and perplexing, I suggest you go watch it right now!

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
?/10 characters
8/10 overall
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Singan Aug 11, 2012

Another spot on review =) I've watched this movie recently and I must say that's the most mysterious anime I've ever encountered. Mamoru Oshii is famous for making vague, introspective movies, but this one exceeds even his standards. It's definitely a great work of art that has literally no exact explanation but still enjoyable as it is.

On a side note, the scene where the girl faces her reflection in the water was repeated in Oshii's "Ghost in the Shell" movie: there's a moment there when Motoko Kusanagi dives into the ocean and then goes up to the surface, coming closer and closer to her reflection. One of the best ways of showing a person's introspection, I believe.

coffeebreath Feb 20, 2012

Fuck yes. Angel's Egg is awesome. Good review, put me in the mood to rewatch it. Enjoyed your interpretation. I remember being confused as hell, the symbolism is very overt, but actually figuring out what it's about... well, a tough nut to crack! This film made me an Oshii fan!