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Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Sky Crawlers


Rating- A

Story remarks:

Imagine a world where wars between men are non-existent, but are done instead by multinationals employing beings called "Kildren", artificially created pilots (clones) who do not age and are immortal unless killed in combat. Sound's good doesn't it? Hmmm.. No. I don't think so.

Now, think you're one of these Kildren. You know what's life for you. You won't age and you won't die, because you're made that way. Your only purpose in life is to go up there with your plane every day, engage in dogfights and wait for the day you die. What's life for you? An endless cycle of repetitive occurances? Every day alive is a repetitive routine of taking off, combat and landing. Knowing your only purpose in living is to be used as cannon fodder by mortals, what's the meaning of your existence?

Such is the angst presented in the film. Although masked as an action film coupled with a backdrop of war between opposing mercenary camps, the shows main goal was to tackle this existential question. Throughout the course of the film, we are shown the different ways they have tried to make life bearable for them. For example, the jovial Tokino, who tried to maintain his sanity by acting like a goof and living like an Epicurean. On the other side of the coin, the serious Kusanagi, who saw her comrades die one by one, ad infinitum, chose to break her own cage of monotony by bearing a child, although this greatly disturbs her as she watches her daughter grow up before her very eyes, knowing well that they could not age past the adolescent form. Finally, we got Kannami, the male lead who interestingly lives life with a certain sense of resignation to his fate, though he showed a flash of optimism at the end, moments before he also tried to break out from his cage and got torn into shreds in combat (by the original copy).

Regardless of whatever things they did to cope with their situation, the very nature of the Kildren and their predicament can be summarized in that one simple question. Heidegger could try and give death as the answer, because it is the end of beings, though it would conclude that their reason for existence is really to go up there and wait for the day they get shot down, because it is the only way to die (of course, suicide is an option). However, since Kildren are immortal and thus do not have the same finite "time" in which being is based upon, It does not answer the question, but merely raises more, such as "What is worth living for in an existence of nothing?" and "Is it an act of life-affirmation to kill a dead existence?. You guys are free to add more.

Mamoru Oshii's works all share this common theme. Since the early days of of GITS, to Innocence and now this one. However, unlike the GITS franchise, which had an existential problem that's easier to answer, The Sky Crawlers is harder because Kildren are in a way, human too. Therefore, in this film we do not distinguish nor explore the humanness of the being in question. Though the storyline was more straightforward and easier to follow, the paradoxical essence (for lack of a better term) of the Kildren definitely made things hard.

Overall, it is a very good movie that will make you think about the issue of existence. I understand the boring remarks made by some reviews, but I think it is only boring if you are not open to a deep fleshing out of characters. Those long, seemingly useless bits of dialouge are not useless. In fact, they contribute more to the idea of emptiness than the dogfight scenes themselves. Just remove the expectation for an action-packed movie and you'll survive.


Technical:

The animation was solid. 3d battle scenes were great, although they aren't the main attraction of the movie as they all act as backdrops to the existential issue. The darkened indoor scenes were a thing of beauty. Lighting and detail, both great. Character designs are surprisingly (and ironically) fit for the mood. Kannami, Tokino and the other pilots evoke a sense of innocence due to their designs while Kusanagi's cold dead eyes reflect emptiness within. It was funny seeing an adolescent smoke and drink with reckless abandon. That made me LOL.

Overall

Thingle has just put this in his hall of fame. That says enough about what he feels towards the film.


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