I Dig Giant Robots. I Bet Nietzsche Would, Too.

Gipsy Danger

I saw Pacific Rim and now I have a new thing that I’m geeking out about hard-core. I bought the soundtrack (which is operatic and lovely) and would buy action figures if I had money. It’s probably a good thing that I’m not going back to work until later this month.

Anyway, I like it because it’s a movie with giant robots smashing into giant monsters. I love it because I think there’s a bit more to it than that, and because of the other thing. There’s some depth to this movie, but if you’re familiar with Guillermo Del Toro, then that’s not news to you. For one thing, and this is relatively superficial, Del Toro is able to portray a female protagonist who is multidimensional and is not overly sexualized; you can tell she’s a woman– she’s not asexual nor ugly (in fact, she’s very much the opposite)– and she is intelligent with an interesting backstory and personality. Actually, Mako Mori (that’s her name) isn’t a bad place to start.

I’m a big fan of duality and liminality in characters and stories, especially in characters. Mako deals with the confclit between the rage she feels towards the kaiju (the “strange creatures” or monsters) that leveled her home and killed her family, and the loyalty and respect she feels towards Stacker Pentacost (digression: he and I share the same birth year, though I’m 7 months older) who saved her life and raised her. There’s more to it, some excellent scenes of her in battle and as a child, but anything else would be entering spoiler territory, and I want people to go see this movie.

Clumsy segue into non-spoilers and Nietzsche. Real quick, Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher in the 19th century who had some pointed arguments about the foundations of Christianity. He was also very interested in the development of the individual and culture, and may have been most known for nihilism. I’m no Nietzsche scholar, but I think Del Toro knows that most of his audience isn’t either, that’s why he built his story (at least partly) around one of Nietzsche’s most famous quote:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

I dig that quote. Especially when we see it all over popular culture (Harry PotterFireflyThe Dark Knight). The quote is up for interpretation, in fact, it’s up for the interpretation of each individual. It could mean to remain grounded when pursuing knowledge, but not to stop said pursuit. It could mean literal monsters and a (or “the”) literal abyss, like in Pacific Rim or in every ocean. Even if we’re not familiar with the prolific works of Friedrich Nietzsche, at least we might be able to recognize some of his influence based just on that quote. Now, take a look at one of Pacific Rim‘s movie posters:

Specifically, the tagline. Though, that is a pretty B.A. poster. I might buy that one. Anyway, slight spoilerage ahead, each jaeger (giant robot) needs to have at least two pilots. Each of these pilots controls either the right or left hemisphere of the jaeger’s “brain.” To do this, the individuals have to be extremely compatible; they’re usually related, but in two jaegers that we see, the pilots have an extreme bond beyond that of shared background, or, more specifically, shared memories. A lot of cool scenes go with this, I won’t detail them out so that you can go see the movie yourself. The “human brain” of each jaeger is perhaps reflective of how an individual (such as Mako) is in conflict with him or herself. Even though the tagline and a (superficial) viewing of the film says that the humans built monsters (the jaeger robots) to fight the kaiju– becoming monsters to fight monsters– this actually isn’t true. The jaegers became gigantic humans, actually better humans, to fight and banish the kaiju into the abyss from which they came.

Really, a very good movie.

Now, here’s a question that I won’t answer: why are the robots called jaegers (the German word for “hunter”) and the monsters are known as kaiju (the Japanese word for “strange creature”) when it’s not a nation vs. a nation or a nation vs. an alien race, it’s the world vs. an alien race? Weird.



3 thoughts on “I Dig Giant Robots. I Bet Nietzsche Would, Too.

    • The cinematography was awesome, like literally awesome. I found myself with mouth hanging open in awe of a lot of the scenes.

  1. Pingback: Kawaii Kaiju | Capes & Teapots

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