Angel’s Egg: We all have an egg to carry
May 30, 2009
Beauty of Angel’s Egg is timeless. For me this 1986 vintage film is more beautiful and captivating than most flashy CG animated works today. Aesthetics aside, its value and meaning remain elusive to many simply because it relies too heavily on obscure Christian symbolic imagery. What does it all mean? One must remember that Oshii once aspired to become a priest, before he changed his mind and chose the path of a director. Oshii also claims that the movie is very personal for him. If so, can one see Angel’s Egg as the death of Oshii’s innocent faith in Christianity? I won’t pretend to have found my answer to many symbolisms in the film but I do want to share my views so far. In this post, I will be talking about a number of scenes/imagery and what I thought and felt about each one, before offering my humble attempt at an interpretation.
The Christ and his God
I think that is the conclusion most people arrived at. If you ask me, it almost seems as if Oshii is using the man to project his present self and his loss of faith in Christianity, for the reasons which will become apparent later.
The girl and her egg
What is inside the egg? Faith? Innocence? Or her soul? And who is the girl? Representation of a typically faithful follower of Christianity? Or perhaps Oshii’s youthful self in the past, when he was aspiring to become a priest. Impossible to answer. However, it is worth mentioning that it looked almost as if the girl gave birth to the egg. Without the girl, there is no egg. Without an egg, the girl has nothing to carry.
The girl seems to have a hobby of collecting water. Collecting water is pretty much what she has been doing all this time. Nobody knows why. I am not even sure if she knows why. But she seems to be enjoying it. And isn’t that what really matters?
Fish, Fishermen and the buildings
Jesus once said to his followers, “Come ye after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men”
The city is inhabited by countless fishermen, who remain in stone form (like gargoyles) until the shadows of fish start swimming on the walls and streets. They throw spears at the shadows but destroy the buildings in process. The girl tells the man,
“Even though the fish aren’t really anywhere, still they chase after them”.
It is most likely that Oshii wanted these fishermen as a metaphor for the followers of blind faith. They chase the shadows blindly and by trying to catch the intangible, they end up destroying the tangible.
The man’s story of Noah’s Ark
Noah sends a dove to fly and bring back a part of the land. But the dove never came back. They waited and waited, hoping and believing that the dove would come back, until they turned to stones.
And of course, you all know what happened after the girl went asleep.
So Angel’s Egg is in a sense about danger and folly of blind faith. We mustn’t chase shadows that can never be caught. We mustn’t drown from waiting for things that may never return. But then, how about the girl’s genuine faith in her egg? As mentioned before, without the girl there is no egg. Without an egg the girl has nothing to carry. What are we without eggs to cherish and put faith in? I do not know if we will, one day, find our eggs broken and empty, and our hands older and darker. But we should still have our own eggs, whatever they may be, to carry and cherish. Perhaps, this is what it means to have a soul.
My apologies if anything here sounds far-fetched. Maybe the film should be approaached just as an enigmatic visual masterpiece, with no attempt at trying to spell what it actually means.