You are not logged in.

Gougai! Gougai!

HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top03-12-2009 05:52:12 AM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Broom Handle of Nobility: A self-examination on Movie Utena.

(I think "self-examination" sounds a bit less psycho than "conversation with myself", don't you?)

Q. So what's up with Movie Utena?
A. She has a very different past, which means she is different in the present.

Q. What about her past?
A. Touga was her childhood boyfriend. One day, he drowned attempting to save Juri, who had fallen out of her boat. Utena doesn't remember this, though.

Q. Why doesn't she remember?
A. The answer lies in the fact that Utena only forgot the details of his death after arriving at Ohtori, and the fact that Utena's lack of memory is the anchor that is sustaining Touga's presence in Ohtori. When she finally remembers, when she wakes herself up from that happy delusion that he had never died, he vanishes. Utena clearly states that she only forgot the details "since I got here".

Q. So it's the power of Ohtori then?
A. I am reluctant to use the mysterious, undefined nature of the world of Ohtori to explain things away, but in this instance it's definite. As Touga says at one point, everything at Ohtori is focused around princehood. I believe that when Utena entered Ohtori, her wish that Touga HAD been her prince, had not died and left her, was in a partial way granted. Utena lost her memory of Touga's death, and Touga took on a semblance of never having died. However, nothing else about her has changed, including the feelings of desertion and resentment she felt about his death.

Q.  How could she feel deserted? He died in a heroic sacrifice. How could she resent that?
A. You need to remember, Utena was a little girl then, a child. A child who loses the only person in their life is not going to be comforted by the manner of their death. They will think of it only in terms of their own loss. You can call it a child's selfishness, but it's perfectly normal and understandable for them to actually resent that person for having died and left them. Utena had already lost her parents, and now Touga as well? She felt like he had deserted her, and came to the conclusion that there were no princes. How could a real prince die and leave her all alone like that?

Q. What's your evidence for this?
A. "There is no prince!" This is the lament that Utena delivers at the height of her emotional outburst regarding Touga, and this line can also be translated as "There's no such thing as a prince!" or "There are no princes!". Also, as I said earlier, although Utena has forgotten that Touga died, nothing else about her personality has been changed by that forgetting. Her clear resentment toward him for having "disappeared" is what she has truly felt about his death all along.

Q. And so because of that feeling of betrayal, Utena decided to become a prince herself?
A. That's right. Believing that there were no princes, Utena boldly and stubbornly determined to become the prince that she thought didn't exist. What audacity! Even if it was partly motivated by a desire to "get back" at Touga for dying and deserting her, you have to admire her spirit.

Q. What about the star-framed photograph of Touga and herself that she cherishes enough to display in her room even now?
A. Of course she still cherishes that time, and those feelings. She can do that and still feel betrayal and abandonment - indeed, the two impulses feed off each other. Utena is lonely, and the more she misses Touga, the more resentment she feels. On top of it all, she's feeling a mixture of bitterness and jealousy toward Touga due to his reappearance and emotional manipulation.

Q. What "emotional manipulation" do you mean?
A. During the pool scene, Touga is working hard to undermine Utena's tentative bond with Anthy. Despite having no connection to Anthy at all, Touga makes insinuations about her activities as the Rose Bride and gives delicately suggestive responses to Utena's questions about his history with her. In the movie, water is Touga's element, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he engineered the flying waterhose. Both Utena and Anthy are drenched by it, but Touga fusses only over Anthy, right in Utena's face. In short, Touga is attempting to make Utena feel jealous and to drive a wedge between her and Anthy. He succeeds, but only temporarily.

Q. What about Anthy's behavior toward Touga? How do you think Anthy feels about Utena's lingering attachment to him?
A. This will mainly be addressed in my self-examination on Anthy, but briefly: Anthy is quite confident that she will be able to free Utena from Touga's memory, and that's exactly what she does, although Touga puts up a more active struggle than Anthy was expecting.

Q. So does Utena really blame Anthy for Touga's desertion of her, as she claims in her "outburst"?
A. Of course she doesn't actually believe that, but there is so much she is struggling with at this point:

1. While clearly attracted by Anthy and her teasing but winsome invitations, Utena has been lonely and hurting ever since Touga's death - most of her young life. Because of that, she feels a kind of loyalty to those emotions she's grown up with, and to his memory. These form a part of who she is.

2. Further complicating this is Anthy's seemingly impersonal sexuality, which Utena is both fascinated and apalled by - she questions Anthy about this over and over. Utena doesn't want to use Anthy that way, and thus, she can't trust Anthy's overtures or her own reactions to them. (Of course, she's quite wrong about Anthy's motivations in her case.)

3. Now add to all of that the vinegary mixture of emotions Utena is feeling toward Touga now that he has suddenly reappeared, and the suspicions about Anthy's history with him that he plants in Utena's mind after the pool scene.

All of this makes Utena angry at herself for her attraction to Anthy, and angry at Anthy for being the object of it. In a direct reversal from the TV series, here it's Utena who is stuck in her pain, and Anthy represents her potential window to the frightening ideas of change and release. It's no wonder she lashes out at Anthy, who is at the center of her conflicted feelings.

Q. The dance scene is the turning point in Utena's feelings for Anthy, isn't it?
A. It is. Both Utena and Anthy were physically attracted to each other right away, and Anthy's emotional attraction to Utena began in the first duel when Utena showed her goodness and forthright spirit, but it's only after Anthy's beautiful gesture to Utena, only after she says in effect, "I will be the one to watch the stars with you now", that Utena lowers her reserve and lets herself start to fall in love with Anthy too. As they both work to deepen those feelings, Utena begins to escape from the loneliness that has kept her trapped in her resentment of Touga, and thus to move away from her dependence on his memory.

Q. Because of that, Utena is finally able to forgive Touga for dying, and can admit he was a prince back then after all, right?
A. That's right. Having been freed from her loneliness by Anthy, Utena is now able to let go of her sense of abandonment, and admit that Touga truly had been her prince at that time. She can also accept that he is nothing but a memory now, and one that she can at last let go. Utena has found a new love, and now it's her turn to be that person's prince, like Touga was for her long ago.

Q. Well, now we come to it. When Utena becomes the Car...?
A. When Utena becomes the Car. Although probably the single most famous (and infamous) piece of symbolism in the movie, it's not one that I struggled with overmuch in comparison with some others. However, there are definitely many different ideas at work.

1. The first and, to many lovers of the TV series, most obvious meaning is that by becoming a car, Utena is becoming the "vehicle" of Anthy's freedom from the world of Ohtori. People seem to like this one because it fits the series role dynamic that they are accustomed to: Utena as liberator and Anthy as the liberated. While I'm not saying it isn't applicable in this case too, my personal feeling is that this reading does not properly highlight the role reversal of Anthy and Utena that is taking place as one of the movie's themes. For that, we move to...

2. A more interesting (to me) reading is that by becoming a car, Utena is relinquishing control to Anthy, who is the one driving the car. In so doing, Anthy is the active party guiding and protecting the passive Utena, making choices and pressing forward with her own will. This interpretation underscores the fact that Anthy has been the primary motivating force of both the duels, and Utena's freedom from the painful emotions of her past. Ikuhara's commentary also supports this reading, as he draws a parallel with the story of "Sleeping Beauty", and suggests that in this case, Utena has become the princess who can only be awakened by Anthy:

"...there's the story of "Sleeping Beauty," where you have the princess who'd been asleep for a long time who's awakened by the prince. But the Utena character has been the Prince from the beginning of this story. So, the idea of Utena being turned into a car suggests that she's being put to sleep. So, I thought it would be interesting to reverse the roles played by Utena and Anthy in their respective relationships. In other words, Utena's the one who becomes the princess. She's the one forced into sleep. And only Anthy can free Utena from this sleep. That's how things come to an end. I thought it would be very interesting to reverse their roles."

3. Another obvious interpretation, but a far more agreeable one to me, is that the car/driver dynamic is a metaphor for Utena and Anthy's romance, the idea that they have "become one", and their ability to overcome both present and future obstacles through their love. It's a beautiful concept and not one that needs much explanation. Ikuhara's remarks also point to this being an element.

4. Finally, on the most figurative level, Utena and Anthy becoming car and driver is symbolic of their journey out of adolescence and into adulthood.

These interpretations are by no means mutually exclusive. Any or all of them can be mixed together.

Q. What about the Key to the Utena Car?
A. That will be covered in my self-examination on Movie Anthy.

Q. At the end of the movie, Utena says, "I understand now too. Why you sought me, and I didn't reject you. We were together in killing the prince." What does she mean by that?
A. This line expresses the reason that Utena and Anthy's hearts were able to unite. It means that they had both lost faith in the princes of their past, and their lives took opposing but complimentary paths. Anthy began searching for her real prince; Utena resolved to become the prince that she thought didn't exist. In other words, Anthy sought to find, and Utena sought to embody, the same virtues. Their experiences in the past, and the things that they've come to cherish since then are alike, only expressed differently. That's why they are such a perfect match for each other. emot-keke

Q. On a more literal level though, couldn't it mean that they both felt responsible, even guilty, for being involved in the (literal) deaths of the people they once saw as princes?
A. No. I reject that idea completely, because neither Utena nor Anthy show any such feelings of guilt throughout the movie. Utena feels a spectrum of unpleasant emotions regarding Touga's death, but responsibility for it is not one of them. Even after forgetting the details she never blames herself for his "disappearance", and Anthy even more clearly feels no sense of personal guilt for what happened to her brother. (Nor should she.)

Q. There is another side to the movie's endgame that you haven't addressed yet, isn't there?
A. Yes. The entire last portion of the movie - everything from Touga's final scene onward - could be read as a renunciation of princehood as a necessary concept. It's possible to draw the conclusion that by the end of the movie, both Utena and Anthy have rejected the idea of princes, both in terms of becoming one and of the need to have one. Utena's line "we were together in killing the prince" could also be taken as a figurative avowal of such a rejection.

Q. What are your feelings about this interpretation?
A. I have such mixed feelings about this idea. There are many potentially positive themes to such a renunciation, such as:

1. Freedom from emotional dependence on an outside party,
2. the ability to be who you are without unrealistic self-expectations,
3. the importance of equality and mutuality in relationships, especially romantic ones, which then speaks to
4. the equality and mutuality that Utena and Anthy have achieved in their own relationship by the end, and finally
5. a feminist message of "Women do not need princes to rescue them."

There are many others, I'm sure.

Q. That's all great stuff, so what's the problem?
A. "Women can be princes too." To me, that was always a central message of Utena, and Utena always becomes the prince in my eyes. Is she a perfect fairytale prince, an inhumanly virtuous figure who rights all wrongs and always triumphs over evil? Of course not. However, even ordinary people can attain nobility, righteousness, valor, mercy, and compassion. That is what it means to be a prince, and it is just as much within the grasp of women. In both the series and the movie, Utena achieves this - whether she thinks so or not.

Sometimes we do need heroes, saviors, inspirational figures that give us aid and hope and comfort. There's no shame in that; on the contrary, that need is what lets us feel respect, admiration, and love for other people. So that's why I always want to believe that Utena is the Prince. I want to believe in her victory.

Q. But does it have to be one or the other? Can't Utena be the prince without the prince being necessary? Can't she be Anthy's prince even if Anthy has been freed of the need for one?
A. It's all possible. None of this is mutually exclusive. So many concepts and meanings are blended together in Utena. That's the amazing thing about it...but that also means it's very hard to make up one's mind on some things. There are just so many possibilities.

Q. Speaking of which, there is another potential reading of this "renunciation", isn't there?
A. Indeed yes. Even after saying all that, there is another even more interesting way to see it. However, I will leave that for my self-examination on Movie Anthy.

Q. This has gotten so metaphorical. Could you get back to specifics and give a final summation on Utena in the movie?
A. As a child, Utena felt betrayed and disillusioned by Touga's death. Concluding that no princes existed, she decided to become a prince herself. When she arrived at Ohtori, her feelings became part of the fairytale. Her memory of Touga's death was blotted out, and Touga came to life as a phantom.

Utena meets Anthy, and though the attraction is immediate and mutual, Utena feels anxious and conflicted. By sensual invitation, emotional nurturing and gentle action, Anthy overcomes those feelings. Utena is freed from her painful past by their burgeoning love for each other, and says goodbye to a treasured, but ultimately bygone, part of her past. Then some other stuff happens, and Anthy and Utena escape together into the outside world, kissing deeply all the way. etc-love

Q. You really got lazy on that summary.
A. That's not a question. school-devil

Last edited by Aelanie (03-13-2009 05:26:51 AM)

Offline

 

#2 | Back to Top03-12-2009 04:12:47 PM

Riri-kins
World's End
From: Cloud Nine
Registered: 09-22-2008
Posts: 2346

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

I like how you touched on Utena's childishness. I hadn't considered that in the movieverse.


Proud Saionji and Mikage fangirl
My Utena fanfiction: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/2000115/Riri-kins

Offline

 

#3 | Back to Top03-12-2009 06:06:12 PM

BalamiyaVardihi
High Tripper
From: New Jersey
Registered: 12-16-2007
Posts: 243

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Very well done!


Twirling round with this familiar parabol
Spinning, weaving round each new experience.
Recognize this as a holy gift and
Celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing

Offline

 

#4 | Back to Top03-12-2009 06:56:09 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Excellent!
But I'm not so sure that the concept of Princehood is rejected. The very last thing seen before the closing credits is another castle, the music keeps on swelling so I don't think the new castle is meant to evoke anything sinister. I think it is the "real castle" (in an adult sense) that they can build or find for themselves.

I think that all four versions of Utena have some kind of scene where Utena relinquishes control to Anthy, as almost an act of faith, in the hope that Anthy can make good use of it in spite of previous evidence to the contrary.

Offline

 

#5 | Back to Top03-12-2009 09:46:07 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

brian wrote:

But I'm not so sure that the concept of Princehood is rejected.

Oh sure. It's only one of many readings, and as I tried to point out, it's not a personal favorite. As you will read in my examination on Anthy, it's actually possible to take it in completely the other direction...

The very last thing seen before the closing credits is another castle, the music keeps on swelling so I don't think the new castle is meant to evoke anything sinister. I think it is the "real castle" (in an adult sense) that they can build or find for themselves.

This occured to me as well, but I had another idea too. How's this for an interpretation?

The "badlands" that Utena and Anthy arrive at after escaping the Castle on Wheels still isn't yet the Outside World. It is merely the very edge of the world of Ohtori. Even though it might seem like they've arrived outside, Utena talks about it in a way that suggests they are still on the way to it. "Now we're heading into a world without roads. Perhaps we won't be able to make it there." She says nothing about having actually arrived yet. That being the case, that castle could still be an illusionary goal, the one those wrecked cars had crashed trying to reach.

So where is the Outside World? We only see a glimpse of it right at the very end. In the very final seconds, a flurry of rose petals obscures the castle and the dark landscape, and all that is left is a radiant blue sky... That is the true Outside World, which is not grim and forbidding, but beautiful and glorious to those with the strength to escape their illusions as Utena and Anthy did.

....OR MAYBE NOT. I'm not wholly taken with this reading, especially as it somewhat clashes with Ikuhara's commentary on the the final scene, but it's an idea.

Last edited by Aelanie (03-13-2009 05:16:14 AM)

Offline

 

#6 | Back to Top03-13-2009 07:44:12 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

I'm not sure which idea I prefer, but while thinking about it, I noticed something else. The landscape is filled with wreaked cars. I always assumed they were the wrecks of people like Utena and Anthy who didn't make it in the world. But in fact they are the monster cars, the corpses left behind by the victorious Prince. I had never thought that they were supposed to evoke victory rather than peril.

Offline

 

#7 | Back to Top03-15-2009 03:22:03 AM

P.D.M.
Touga Topper
From: Budapest, Hungary
Registered: 06-24-2008
Posts: 54

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

But I'm not so sure that the concept of Princehood is rejected. The very last thing seen before the closing credits is another castle, the music keeps on swelling so I don't think the new castle is meant to evoke anything sinister. I think it is the "real castle" (in an adult sense) that they can build or find for themselves.

"Our prince is in another castle?"emot-biggrin


Cedric X Orube: Finally a pairing I can adore!

Offline

 

#8 | Back to Top03-15-2009 05:23:06 PM

Hanayome
Miki Molester
Registered: 08-28-2008
Posts: 35

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Great analysis!emot-dance
I especially like the idea of Utena as a princess.

Offline

 

#9 | Back to Top03-17-2009 12:24:31 AM

Itsuke
Pathtracer
Registered: 12-08-2008
Posts: 341

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

eagerly awaits your analysis on Anthy~

Offline

 

#10 | Back to Top03-25-2009 03:46:57 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Broom Handle of Nobility: A self-examination on Movie Utena.

I just have to applaud the cleverness of this line. poptart etc-love poptart

Offline

 

#11 | Back to Top03-25-2009 04:14:17 AM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Up until the last minute, it was going to be called "Sword of the Noble Rose", but "Broom Handle of Nobility" just came to me out of the blue. emot-keke

Anthy examination coming soon, I swear! It's nearly done...

Last edited by Aelanie (03-25-2009 05:03:45 AM)

Offline

 

#12 | Back to Top04-03-2009 02:01:27 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10328
Website

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

I love the consideration of the pros and cons of rejecting the idea that Utena becomes a prince.  I think what's so difficult here is that what princehood means is not very well defined.  We had an interesting conversation about it in the context of the series here.  A number of us, myself included, like the idea that the archetypal prince that the series presents is not a good role model!  He runs to the rescue of every other woman in the world but leaves his sister at home.  Utena attains the pinnacle she does by rejecting this idea of altruism in favor of saving and attending to the people she personally cares about.  If Utena after the series began acting like Dios, leaving Anthy at home to go kick ass in strangers' dueling games, I would say that she hasn't grown at all and doesn't deserve to be a hero.  Fortunately, I don't see that happening.  emot-smile

The movie is even trickier because it doesn't have a clean archetypal prince character like Dios.  In the movie, "prince" is a kind of relationship, not a kind of person.  Nonetheless, the two explicit princes in the movie -- Akio and Touga -- remain bad role models.  They try to reinforce their love object's dependence on them, and when Akio finds out his princess has been in control all along it breaks his brain and he kills himself.  That said, both of these guys are false princes: "There never was a real prince in this world to begin with."  That leaves space for a positive way of being a prince, and it's possible Utena became a prince for Anthy.  Or for that matter maybe Anthy became Utena's prince.  Somewhere amidst all the role reversals these characters attained a kind of symmetry; maybe princehood needs to be symmetrical to be healthy?

Offline

 

#13 | Back to Top04-03-2009 08:43:52 PM

Aelanie
Black Rosarian
Registered: 02-04-2009
Posts: 377

Re: Broom Handle of Nobility: A Self-Examination on Movie Utena.

Nonetheless, the two explicit princes in the movie -- Akio and Touga -- remain bad role models.  They try to reinforce their love object's dependence on them

Absolutely agreed. Touga's exam needs some updating, as I've already considered him in that light, and my Anthy exam (which will be released soon) attends to this theme with Akio.

Or for that matter maybe Anthy became Utena's prince.  Somewhere amidst all the role reversals these characters attained a kind of symmetry; maybe princehood needs to be symmetrical to be healthy?

Believe it or not... >_>

You beat me to it. Again, my exam on Movie Anthy will speak to this possibility. Short answer: It's an extremely valid idea.

Last edited by Aelanie (04-04-2009 04:18:19 AM)

Offline

 

Board footer

Powered by PunBB 1.2.23
© Copyright 2002–2008 PunBB
Forum styled and maintained by Giovanna and Yasha
Return to Empty Movement