Angel’s Egg is a work of animated art released in 1985 by co-artists Yoshitaka Amano and director Mamoru Oshii. The story unfolds, almost wordlessly, like the haunted dream of one who has come to a crisis of faith. Bleak, surreal anachronisms; watery, wandering atonal score with gorgeous passages of medieval-inspired vocals; mysterious figures possessing objects of deep and ambiguous symbolism—the film has conjured the imperfect landscape of a dream. It feels half-remembered, slowly fading as if this is the last and only time you will get to see it.
The film follows two figures: a little girl who carries an egg and collects water in glass bottles, and a soldier who walks with a bizarre staff that, in the distance, appears to be a cross. They wander through a world frozen in ruin. Stone fishermen stab at shadows, grotesque tanks roll through the empty streets, and a colossal mechanized eye descends with the scream of steam pipes. The images and the lack of explanatory dialogue force the viewer to interpret them—or else be bored or confused. Thankfully, the score is beautiful and the imagery striking.
The film is difficult but rewarding. Its ending alone is worth seeing the film for. The perspective begins with a steady zoom out from a desolate earth; as the music swells, the viewer begins to see the darkest twist in an already gnarled plot sequence. Angel’s Egg is hard to recommend. Any looking for a challenging piece of art to dissect, any looking to see what a dream looks like while awake, any fans of the film’s director Mamoru Oshii—these would likely take interest along with the plainly curious.