The Machinist (2004): Meaning, Summary, Film Review. Good sleep is the key to health. True, it still needs to be earned. This idea is promoted by Brad Anderson in his film The Machinist. Dream or reality, mysticism or fantasy – the viewer has to puzzle over this throughout the entire thriller. What is the meaning of the film “The Machinist”? And what lesson did the director teach this time?
Synopsis for the film The Machinist
Before analyzing the meaning of the film “The Machinist”, let’s recall the story briefly described in it.
Reznik Trevor works at the plant as a machine operator. He has been suffering from insomnia for a year now. The authorities are concerned about his health and appearance – the guy has become very thin lately.
On a note! Christian Bale dropped 63 pounds to play Trevor in The Machinist. And he set a record among Hollywood actors for losing weight before filming.
Every night he goes to the airport cafe, where he meets the waitress Maria. She has a son Nicholas. Resnick invites her to go somewhere for Mother’s Day. They go to an amusement park, where Trevor and Nicholas go to the Highway 666 Horror Room. From the nightmares he saw – torn off hands, the body of the deceased on the road, coffins – the boy becomes ill. Reznik takes him out into the street – the mother admits that her son is an epileptic.
The hero often visits the prostitute Stevie, who one day agrees to quit her job for him.
At work, Reznik meets Ivon, who is temporarily replacing Tucker, a welder. The guy seems strange to him. Once distracted by a new acquaintance, the main character accidentally presses the button to turn on the machine, because of which the device cuts off the hand of the machinist Miller.
Interesting! Almost all American film studios refused to shoot the thriller The Machinist, the meaning and script of which seemed very strange and incomprehensible to everyone.
Reznik suspects that what happened is the tricks of Ivon. It turns out that they do not have such an employee at the plant. But the hero constantly sees Avon either at work, or at a bar, or at home. Notes with the game “Gallows” begin to appear on the refrigerator – someone is guessing words for him.
At work, Trevor almost cuts off his hand with a machine tool – he swears, blames employees for what happened. He is fired for inappropriate behavior.
Resnick tries to get Ivon’s address from the license plate number. But in the automotive service they refuse to do this without a good reason. Then the main character jumps under an unknown car, and declares to the police that he was hit by Ivon’s car. The police officer reports that the owner of the desired car is Trevor himself.
The main character escapes from the police, goes to Stevie. On the girl’s desk, he finds a photo of Ivon. But Stevie says that Reznik himself is in the photo. The guy does not believe her, leaves. Comes to the airport cafe, asks Maria. The waitress reports that they have never had such an employee.
Reznik sees Ivan coming into his apartment with Nicholas. The main character is looking for a boy. Ivon announces that Nicholas is dead, offers the driver to deal with his memory. Trevor recalls hitting a boy a year ago and leaving the scene of the accident. He gives away his possessions and turns himself in to the police. In the cell, the hero falls asleep.
The meaning of the film “The Machinist” is revealed only towards the end of the plot.
Reznik hit a little boy and fled the scene. The consciousness of the hero created a kind of temporary shield from responsibility for what he had done – the driver forgot about the incident. However, guilt does not allow Trevor to live in peace. He hasn’t had a good night’s sleep for a year now. The reality of the hero is mixed with hallucinations and short-term dreams.
From here appears the non-existent Ivon – the dark side of Reznik himself. He has black glasses, narrow-toed polished shoes, a red car, which the hero had on the day of the accident. So the subconscious pushes particles of truth out of itself, trying to remind you of the tragedy that happened. The hero communicates with himself, writes notes to himself, plays the Hangman game with himself, gets angry with himself, and then kills his second “I”. After this, the unity of Trevor’s personality occurs, and the hero remembers everything.
The meaning of the film “The Machinist” is expressed through many small elements intertwined into a single storyline. The details remembered by the hero from the day of the accident form the following images and details:
- waitress Maria is the mother of the downed boy. In his visions, Reznik came to her every night. He wanted to make amends to Nicholas’s mother, tried to become a support for their family, support;
- 1-30 is the time of the accident. It was at this time that the hero saw Mary every time. Even when, after the cafe, Trevor and Maria went to her house, both in the apartment and in the cafe, the guy saw the same numbers “1-30” on the clock;
- the name of the fear room “Route 666” – a pendant with a similar inscription “Route 66” was in Reznik’s car;
- mother’s day – the date of the tragedy;
- airport – an accident occurred near it;
- horrors in the room of fear: the corpse of a child’s body covered with a sheet on the road, a coffin, a severed arm. All this hints at the unreality of events (a trip to a children’s amusement park), and also indicates a tragedy that has happened.
The meaning of the image of fish in the film “The Machinist”
In the film The Machinist, the fish appears several times:
- in the form of a badge on the van;
- pictured with Trevor (Ivon);
- in the freezer of the protagonist.
Why does the director pay so much attention to this symbol?
Fish in Christianity personifies the image of Christ. The whole fish in the photo (before the accident) signifies unity with God. The fish, dismembered and rotten, bleeding out, is a symbol of religious decay, a departure from the ideals of Christ. Having committed a crime and not atoning for his guilt, the hero becomes the Antichrist. He is afraid to sacrifice his body, physical freedom for the salvation of the soul.
The moral of the psychological thriller “The Machinist”
What is the meaning of the film “The Machinist”?
For any bad deed, you have to answer, first of all, to yourself. Having broken the law, it is better to immediately admit your guilt and receive a fair punishment for what you have done. Otherwise, you will have to conduct lengthy negotiations with your own conscience. The meaning of the film “The Machinist” is that you can run away from justice, but you cannot run away from yourself and God.
The feeling of guilt does not allow the main character to live in peace – it deprives him of peace, sleep, drives him crazy. He cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. Because of this, Trevor loses his job, quarrels with friends and a girlfriend. His life is turning into hell. Only repentance and serving a well-deserved punishment can save his soul.
Reznik and Raskolnikov
The image of Trevor resembles the hero of Dostoevsky from the novel “Crime and Punishment”. Raskolnikov and Reznik are united by the following points:
- both are not negative characters;
- experience an overwhelming sense of guilt for the crime committed, are deprived of peace in connection with this;
- find solace in the company of a prostitute (Sonya/Stevie) with whom they fall in love;
- pleaded guilty and were punished.
On a note! The connection with the heroes of Dostoevsky is also indicated by the novel The Idiot, which appeared in one of the episodes.
What is the essence of the ending
When the protagonist remembers the crime committed a year ago, admits his guilt and agrees to suffer a well-deserved punishment, a long-awaited relief comes to him. Trevor falls asleep peacefully. The meaning of the ending of the film “The Machinist” is that it is pointless to run away from punishment. The soul of the criminal will not come to rest while unredeemed sins lie on it.
Everyone must be held accountable for their misdeeds and be punished for their evil deeds. Brad Anderson in his thriller “The Machinist” spoke about the remorse of a murderer walking free. After everything that the protagonist has gone through, he is no longer afraid of any punishment – he will withstand everything.