Jul 6, 2010

The Love Gun - Part 1

A Boy and His Robot - The Iron Giant

I finally watched The Iron Giant last week. Considering how prophetic this little box office bomb has been, I’m glad I finally got around to it. The film is beautifully made, and director Brad Bird eventually went on to great success at Pixar with The Incredibles and Ratatouille. The plot:

In 1957, During the height of the Red Scare, a giant alien robot crash lands off the coast of Maine. Struck with amnesia it is found and befriended by a nine year old boy. Eventually the robot comes to the attention of an FBI agent, who assumes the robot is an enemy weapon. As it turns out, the robot is a sort of weapon, though from where and aimed at what target is never made explicit. However, thematically and symbolically, the robot represents the mighty Id, and it is aimed squarely at the ego.

The story is essentially about two egos and their responses to a sudden manifestation of Id consciousness. The protagonist is 9 year old Hogarth Hughes, who while at first is terrified, soon welcomes and befriends the intimidating giant. The antagonist is FBI agent Kent Mansley, who can see the robot only as a threat. Released in 1999, the film is a sort of bridge from the McCarthy years to the post 911 ‘reign of terror’. Interesting that Brad Bird was born on Sept. 11, 1957.

Much has already been written about this film, but I’ll try to add my own two cents, starting with the name of the protagonist: Hogarth Hughes. A brilliant HH (see the Double H Ranch) the name is a tribute to William Hogarth, English Freemason, cartoonist and satirist credited with the invention of ‘sequential art’; and Ted Hughes, the author of the book “The Iron Man” upon which the film was based.

The Iron Man/Tin Man resonate the alchemical 42, Jupiter, the Rod of Iron... the will of Creation. In other words, this robot is not just any robot - he is that divine Phallus you’ve heard tell about. When the giant falls to earth, he makes a bulls-eye directly into the eye of a hurricane, representing the Divine Feminine. A virgin birth is soon to follow.

The first to witness the earthly manifestation of Id is a fisherman, being the aquatic equivalent of the shepherds who first saw the Star of Bethlehem. He is roundly mocked when he tells his tall tale in the local greasy spoon, though he finds an unlikely ally in the local beatnik - Dean McCoppin, who stands up for the old salt. The beatnik is a metal artist and junk yard owner, who makes art out of old scrap, which he can’t sell. Something about pearls before swine here, and speaking of pigs, they are all over this movie.

When Hogarth first follows the Id giant robot into the dark woods (the Id is always found lurking about the dark woods), he brings his army helmet and a BB gun. These are all ego defensive weapons, and they prove predictably useless. His gun is broken by the foot of the monster, leaving the message: Hog Hug. Hug your hog? Hog is yet another euphemism for the masculine organ.

This giant robot has the ability to repair himself when dismembered, recalling the myth of Osiris, cut into 14 pieces by his jealous brother. When the robot is first dismembered and repaired, the final piece to be integrated is a screw. The screw could represent the golden phallus made for Osiris by Isis, and curiously, it is the screw to his “jawbone”.

And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men. --Judges 15:16
Hmmm... bones as weapons: it would be remiss not to synch in with the great ape from 2001: A Space Odyssey - thus spoke Zarathustra.

After Hogarth realizes the giant metal man isn’t going to kill him, he attempts communication, teaching him simple words and eventually how to speak, which makes perfect sense, because language is a left-brain, egoic ability - the Id “has no British”. After that, he tackles the little stuff like the experience of duality, right and wrong, life and death and the belief in an eternal soul - again, all egoic concepts that would be completely foreign to a creature from the Id! Fortunately, the Id is a quick study.

"Who controls the Metal Monster?"

When the boy’s Id is introduced to egoic duality, the robot is given the choice of playing Atomo, the giant robot villain, or Superman, the hero (We note that at first glance, the giant robot more closely resembles the villain, not the hero). However, it is actually the boy who chooses. The ego chooses the role that the Id will play.

“You’re not like him. (Atomo) You’re a good guy. Like Superman.”

The film’s climax envisions Armageddon, when the weapons of the collective ego are arrayed agains the Id. Pitiful they are against the ultimate power of penis! The robot swats away tanks as if they were flies and even takes out battleships!

The Army realizes it has only one more chance, which is its own Shekinah - a nuke from the Nautilus submarine! The collective ego launches a missile targeted directly at the Id robot, which happens to be standing in the same place as the army - one ego-death coming right up! At the last minute, the giant Id sacrifices himself for the sake of the egos who have come to love him. He is destroyed, but the town of Rockwell is saved, one might even say “born again”. I admit to a little crying at this part.

At the end of the movie, Hogarth is given the only remaining artifact of the robot - a tiny screw. Once again, the phallus that Isis made, representing the phallus firmly attached to Hogarth. The Golden Phallus, (or should I say... Compass?) is the mini Me, the Id within - pin the God on the monkey.

“He said it was the only part recovered.”

Meanwhile, on the Langjökull glacier in Iceland (Ultima Thule), The Id robot has begun to re-assemble himself, once again. Unbeknownst to Hogarth, the giant survived the apocalypse, and has begun calling his various parts back to himself. This is represented by the “awakening” of the screw (puberty) and the tapping on the window glass to be let out. The boy’s phallus goes to seek his master, and we know that the boy will not be far behind.

Makes me wonder about that Iceland volcano. Stay tuned for Part 2, when we do a pole shift.


For an alternative interpretation of The Iron Giant, see The Open Scroll blog, where the insidious, “beast” agenda of this film is detailed... in 14 parts.

Wired magazine: A Decade Later, The Iron Giant's Weaponized Soul Still Stirs.


Alan Abbadessa said...

Wonderful post. Really enjoyed your take on this movie - saw it years ago and loved it.

We were just out walking and passed a billboard for "Happiness is a Chocolate Milk Mustache" and Melissa said it reminded her of a guy she works with who pronounces Happiness as Hap-Penis. She then started talking about "Happiness is a Warm Gun"

Interesting version from ATU:

PS: I'm in the middle of reading the Golden Compass right now.

Keep up the great work.

Alan Abbadessa said...

Speaking of the Golden Compass:

My friend, I hope we can let go of the fear and focus on the truth.

Michael said...

Hi Alan, thanks reading. When I was a kid I made a poster for my sis for her birthday, and it was a version of the "happiness is..." meme that was popular in the '70's, it was supposed to read "happiness is playing the flute", since she was a flutist. I misspelled it as "hapiness", which is a bit closer to what Melissa was talking about, and now that you mention it, perhaps the Id was prefiguring his skin flute?

I'm reminded that a compass always points to Magnetic North, it makes me wonder if the Golden Phallus isn't also a sort of "divining rod".

Devin said...

Great article Michael !!!!!!!!
really enjoyed the comments too- haha that is the only "instrument" i have some skill with -lol-the "skin flute" :-) i played the piano when i was like eight years old -but my damn piano teacher- first name "Earlburt" maybe that explains why he was so mean- woulda made Heinrich Himmler (another HH for you:-) look like a pansy!!!!!!!!
that volcano- or the surrounding "Katla" got quite active a few days ago-many quakes in a 48 hour period- thats all we need now for that to go off!!!!!!
I am going to see if this movie is available on netflix instant watch or is avail for order from them- because of your work with this i would love to see it!!!!!!!
all the best to you and Varen- I hope you guys are having a smashingly beautiful summer!!!!!!

Devin said...

O - damn- meant to say as far as the "jawbone" thing goes with Isis etc- in ancient Egypt I guess they had a ceremony right before one was entombed called the "Opening of the Mouth" (i may have the exact phrase wrong) ceremony- I guess the embalmer used a carpenter's tool called an adze to open the mouth which symbolically allowed for the soul to go to the other world?
all the best to you my friend!!!!!!

GreggerMan said...

Interesting interpretation. Much to ponder. A well written piece.

This is my favorite animated film and has been since I first saw it in August of 1998. Warner's truly laid an egg when they failed to market this movie correctly. It has since become a critical and cult favorite and sealed Brad Bird's reputation in the eyes of the people at Pixar. Its critical success assured Bird of a great career.

I have always seen this piece as being primarily anti-war/anti-weapon.

Ted Hughes was a consultant on the film and approved the script. He spoke highly of the adaptation. He died only 2 months after the film's release. He wrote the book in response to nuclear armament. Later, Pete Townsend of The Who turned it into a musical because he identified with the ant-war theme.

Hughes was married to the famous poet Sylvia Plath ("The Bell Jar") who committed suicide, thus ending their marriage. A few years later, Hughes companion and the mother to his young child also committed suicide, taking the child with her. Hughes was the British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.

"The Iron Giant" swept the Annie Awards (American Animation Awards) and received the highest award possible from the organization, Best Film.

Personally, I question the sanity of any individual who sees this movie as having some hidden agenda regarding promoting the coming of The Beast. Like the fear-based belief that there are terrorists hiding under every rock, finding proof of the satanic shadow is wherever the individual with the fixation desires it to be.

"The Iron Giant" is a classic animated film that will, hopefully, do what it was meant to do for generations to come--to entertain while informing about our need to recognize our best selves, the peaceful and loving selves who can consciously reject war and the need to use weapons.

To me it is about personal transformation and regeneration into enlightenment. Finding The Beast within that philosophy is as disheartening and perversely disillusioning as willingly creating sorrow from joy just to push your misinformed agenda.

I have the film poster hanging in my office and, at the time of the film's release, I collected every toy made in conjunction with the film.

I have yet to find Satan hiding anywhere in this movie--"Oh, but that is how he fools you!"--yea, right. I must have watched this movie more than almost any other film save "Star Wars, Episode 1: A New Hope". I suspect that The Beast is running rampant in every movie I've ever enjoyed.

To quote a line from another wonderful animated film, "The Point": "You see what you want to see, you hear what you want to hear." I pity anyone who sees Satan everywhere and ignores the beautiful and loving omnipresence of God.

Michael said...

Greggerman - awesome comment, thanks very much. Ted Hughes' relationship with the Feminist Jesus is rather complex, to say the least. I read his book when I was a teenager, and remember loving it.

I happened upon the "beast interpretation" of this film and I thought it made a perfect example of exactly what the film is about. The open scroll blogger sees this film as being inspired by antichrist, and see exactly the opposite. I think this film is doing exactly what it should be doing: create a polarity of interpretation. It is at once extremely Ego dualistic and Id transformative.

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