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Interpreting the Apocalyptic Dream of ‘Angel’s Egg’

Mamoru Oshii’s underrated masterpiece ‘Angel’s Egg’ is difficult to understand. But that’s kind of the point.
Angels Egg
Studio Deen
By  · Published on December 7th, 2020

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video on Mamoru Oshii’s 1985 film Angel’s Egg.

Angel’s Egg feels like a kind of half-remembered nightmare. The kind of dream that lingers in the back of your mind for weeks. It is an ink-blot test of religious motifs, existential philosophy, and suggestive world-building that resists divination while remaining hauntingly and inescapably enigmatic.

The film takes place in a dying land where monstrous skeletons slump quietly in bell towers while enormous fish-shaped shadows swirl through the city streets. We follow an unnamed girl as she shepherds an enormous (and mysterious) egg through a decrepit, war-torn city. She meets a young soldier who takes an interest in her…and her precious cargo.

Angel’s Egg was a non-commercial collaboration between the equally legendary animation director Mamoru Oshii and artist Yoshitaka Amano — best known to our readers, perhaps, for his work on the Final Fantasy series. Since it’s cold reception in 1985, the film has been hailed as one of the great artistic achievements of both anime and symbolist filmmaking.

If you haven’t already guessed, the film is somewhat difficult to understand. Prior to the project’s production, Oschii lost his faith. And much of that shaken world-view and fervent search for purpose colors Angel’s Egg. And yet, even Oschii claims to not know what the film is really about.

Ultimately, as the video essay below puts it, even when you dig deeper, Angel’s Egg doesn’t become clearer so much as…bigger. It is a film you can sit with indefinitely, where meaning and understanding are not necessarily the same thing.

Watch “Reality in Angel’s Egg“:

Who made this?

AnimeEverday is a YouTube video essay channel based in the United Kingdom that specializes in — you guessed it! — anime. They are currently out of commission but have a wildly entertaining backlog that you can still pick through. You can subscribe to them on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.