“Angel’s Egg” is a 70-minute movie from 1985; Created, written, and directed by Mamoru Oshii (Director of “Dallos”, “Patlabor”, and “Ghost in the Shell”) and co-created, co-written, and with art direction by Yoshitaka Amano (“Amon Saga”, Original Art “Vampire Hunter D”).
On a stark, surreal, checkerboard landscape, a lone warrior, bearing a cylindrical cross-shaped weapon, watches a giant orb shaped vessel filled with haloed stone statues descend into an ocean. A child awakes, leaves her refuge, and heads towards a nearby coastal town. Under her custody and tied to her belly, she cares for and protects a giant egg from the harsh world around her. In the desolate, deserted, post-war town, the young girl collects womb shaped bottles that she fills with water and looks through, to see the world as if it were already submerged beneath the sea.
“Keep precious things inside you, or you will lose them. What do you think is inside that egg?
You have to break an egg, if you are to know what’s inside.”
“Please, my egg, don’t do anything to it. Promise.”
The warrior meets the girl in the town and follows her down the empty streets which suddenly become filled with militant fishermen that literally chase and harpoon the shadows of long dead, giant coelacanths that float through and over the town. Led by the girl outside the town, the warrior speaks to her of a vague memory of a tree, a dark entity holding an egg that reaches to the heavens and sucks life from the ground. He tells of Noah waiting for rebirth, lost at sea, sending forth a dove, and turning to stone while awaiting the bird’s return. He speaks of forgetting where he is from and of his purpose, and claims that existence may be itself a lie, a memory, or a dream. She tells him that his memory was real, and leads him to the fossilized remains of a giant nightmarish archeopteryx, and tells him that she’ll hatch her egg and bring it back. He, however, does not believe that is what lies within the egg.
“The sound of soft breathing.”
“That’s your breathing.”
“I can hear the sound of wings. Surely it must be dreaming of flying in the sky.”
“That’s the sound of the wind outside.”
As night falls and the girl sleeps, the town floods… and the man takes his weapon and breaks her egg.
The girl awakes to a shattered, empty shell. She cries, wails, and chases after the warrior. She trips and visually falls down -- meeting herself coming up -- now a woman; whereupon she drowns and exhales a multitude of eggs. The warrior returns to where he saw the submerging ship, which rises from the deep carrying a new passenger, a statue of the girl with her egg.
“Angel’s Egg” was a pretentious prestige project that I… hesitantly… enjoy. Though beautiful and visually stunning, it’s heavy, leaden, and slowly moves forward at an oppressively self-important, dull, and repetitive pace. Even though he had yet to discover his love of basset hounds, or Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, misanthropic Mamoru Oshii had already begun his sometimes odd, creepy use of Biblical quotes. The plot is an intentionally convoluted amalgam of Evolution, Animism, and Buddhist and Christian mythos. There are no real characters in this film. The two joyless protagonists are the absolute manifestations of gender stereotypes: the bold, violent, doubting, and action oriented Male; and the shy, innocent, fanciful, caring and nurturing Female.