Angel’s Egg is an animated movie that was released 27 years ago during 1985. It was produced by a number of different studios and directed by Mamoru Oshii. I watched it but a few days ago directly after an intense spiritual experience, perhaps it was due to this- and the fact very little dialogues takes place during it- that much of the movie’s use of symbolism and religious allegory really leaped out at me. Now, Angel’s Egg offers very little in the way of exposition, leaving viewers to interpret what they see as they wish, therefore, please bear in mind that this is merely my interpretation of what I saw, nothing more.
Angel’s Egg is packed with symbolism, much of it religious, as mentioned above. There are the more subtle images such as the jars of water the girl spends much of the movie collecting (perhaps a reference to Jesus’ first miracle?) And then there are the more obvious images such as that of the fox on the stained glass window (foxes are said to symbolise the devil) and the fallen angel, which I believe indicates the sinfulness of this world. However, what I found most interesting was the story’s two main characters who, whilst on the surface seem similar, are actually complete contrasts of one another, let me explain…
We are given absolutely no insight whatsoever into what the nameless girl and man are thinking during the movie, which may lead viewers to infer what they are thinking simply by examining their matching expressions of hopelessness, however, I would encourage viewers to instead consider the actions of the pair as I believe that gives you a more accurate understanding of their thoughts as well as of the movie’s hidden message. We are first introduced to the girl, who for the first quarter of the movie, traverses this desolate world alone, save for a rather large egg which she clutches to her torso. The fact that she keeps moving forward undeterred despite being faced with one miserable landscape after another- not to mention the madness of man-kind- suggests a kind of determination in her wholly absent in the man. At this point it seems that the egg she is carrying is her driving force, understandable given the egg symbolises life, something which is bound to give one hope in such a grim, lifeless world. Upon first encountering one another the man observes the girl, his face expressionless, before erring from his original path and following her- an action which suggests he has no fixed purpose, his life is dictated by whim. Already it is possible to see a huge difference in character, a difference which only becomes more pronounced when the man shares with the girl an interest, if extremely depressing, variation of the popular Bible story, Noah’s Ark.
The man’s retelling of the story is, for the most part, true to the real story, of which I’m sure you are all familiar with, however, it deviates when the man reaches the part where Noah sends out a dove to look for land. In the original story the dove, which has become a symbol of hope as well as of God, returns with a single olive branch to show that it had found land, but in the man’s story the dove does not return to Noah. Noah and the other inhabitants of the ark are left to die, without hope after having been abandoned by God. The man concludes by wondering if the dove (or hope, or God) even existed in the first place. I like to think that the man changed the events of the original story himself- that would certainly be a reflection of his possible feelings of helplessness at being trapped in a world drowning in its own madness (cast back to the scene with the men launching harpoons at the imaginary fish around them.) However, the girl later insists the bird did exist and leads the man to the site of the fallen angel, the angel being what she has been searching for all this time. What really interested me about this scene was how the girl knew where to find it in the first place- perhaps it is an example of a miracle those who have faith in God can experience? In any case, I believe this scene further highlights the difference between the pair: the man has no hope for the future, whereas we can now infer that the girl’s possible faith in God is what gives her hope.
Perhaps because the sight of the angel distresses the man so much- its existence contradicts everything he said about there being no hope or no God- he destroys the girl’s egg, her driving force, her giver of hope. From that point onwards things begin to happen very quickly. The world begins to fill up with water, echoing the story of Noah’s ark, the man leaves the girl’s side, the girl chases after him, possibly to exact revenge, the girl falls into a ravine and then drowns whilst the man reaches the shoreline. What happens next at this point brings all of my previous points together in a pretty awesome way: some kind of huge, ominous airship rises up out of the water, upon it is a vast number of people, including the girl and her egg. The airship then continues to rise up further into the sky, leaving the man behind, possibly to perish as Earth fills up with water. So why is it the girl was chosen to ride the airship to safety and not the man? Because she had faith and hope. Christianity teaches that as long as we have faith in God we can be saved from death, we can be given eternal life, which is exactly what has happened in this case. However, I believe you can also interpret the movie’s message in a more general manner- even if you don’t follow Christianity, or any other faith, how is it possible to continue to live without hope? Hope is what drives us forward during times of hardship- it gives us a goal to strive towards, which, providing you dedicate yourself to achieving that goal, should keep on you on the straight and narrow- and that’s exactly what Angel’s Egg shows us, albeit in a grim, highly surreal manner!
Anyway, I’ve waffled on long enough! If you managed to read the whole thing, congrats! Now go and watch the movie yourself (despite my having spoilt it entirely for you) and see if you can glean anything completely different from it! I’m sure it’s possible.