The film “Annihilation” by Alex Garland: what is the meaning of the denouement
Trees in the form of human silhouettes. Deer with flowering branches instead of horns – as if Munchausen had shot them with a cherry stone. A bear uttering heart-rending cries … in a female voice. Coral-like coastal colossus: beautiful and dangerous. All of these incredible things are hints that give clues to the meaning of the movie “Annihilation”. But the main shock awaits in the denouement.
What is the movie about
Young scientist Lina teaches at a medical school. But to return home in the evenings does not pull. The husband went missing a year ago while on a secret mission. When Kane’s husband finally shows up on the doorstep, he seems out of his mind. After a violent attack, the man is taken away by an ambulance. Not to a hospital, but to a mysterious institute, where his wife ended up. She is initiated into circumstances not disclosed by the government.
An unidentified celestial body landed in a nature reserve on the coast, spreading strange “waves” around it, nicknamed Flicker. The radius of the zone is growing, soon the disaster will be impossible to hide. Teams of researchers and military sent to the forbidden territory do not return. An explanation for the phenomenon has not been found.
Another expedition consists of four women led by Dr. Ventress. Lina is offered to participate, she agrees – she hopes that she will find the cause of her husband’s illness and save him. The brave five cross the perimeter and encounter a number of unusual phenomena. When the meaning and bizarre logic of mutations are revealed to the startled protagonist, the quintet has already turned into a duet. The source of the Shimmer, an abandoned lighthouse on the shore, looms on the horizon. It remains to step over the threshold and face the inevitable.
First there was romance
Science fiction by Jeff Vandermeer “Annihilation” was released in 2014 and sold millions of copies. The author won the prestigious Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Shirley Jackson Award.
A colleague of the American, the British prose writer Alex Garland (who was also the director of the tape), was responsible for the script of the film of the same name. Therefore, the text, reminiscent of a diary, has been creatively reworked. The characters acquired surnames and names, but the nature of the changes in objects and the meaning of the work were preserved.
Having started his film career as a screenwriter (The Beach with DiCaprio, the horror film 28 Days Later, the disaster film Inferno), Alex decided to try his hand at directing. The debut took place in 2015. Chamber (three main characters and one location) thriller “Ex Machina” received 92% positive reviews.
The audience watched with interest the “duel” of two men and an android (Alicia Vikander) that frighteningly looks like an attractive girl. The ending turned everything upside down and caused a pleasant shock. Specialists in visual effects took away the well-deserved statuette from the Oscar ceremony, despite strong competitors (the next part of Star Wars).
Double edged stick
Already from the first “attempt” it became clear: Garland came to the cinema for a long time, such a strong master is worth reckoning with. Therefore, the second film of the Englishman was eagerly awaited. But the fact that the streaming company Netflix took over its distribution was both a gift and a disservice. For, despite the vast audience (the service has 139 million subscribers in 2019), the fees for the tape are awful. Who wants to spend money and time on going to the cinema if the picture is available in three weeks: sit and watch at home on the couch!
Why the brainchild of Alex did not go into wide release and was “sold” to the modern “colossus” is simply explained. One producer was afraid of losses: he decided that the movie was too “elitist” and the public would not like it. An offer was immediately received: to remake the material to a more “intelligible” version. The director, fortunately, had an ally, Scott Rudin. He figured out how to prevent editing – so that the idea of the original source does not suffer. This is how “Annihilation” became an underestimated (including from a commercial point of view) masterpiece.
For casting – a monument in life!
This underestimation is a paradoxical injustice! After all, audience favorites took part in the film. Imagine the low fees paid to altruistic celebrities if the budget is estimated at $55 million (maximum). And there are countless stars. Curl your fingers!
Academy Award winner Natalie Portman (Lina), who fell in love with us as an angular teenager in Leon. Golden Globe nominee Oscar Isaac, who also worked on Garland’s previous project. Tessa Thompson (dashing Valkyrie from the Marvel universe).
The contender for every conceivable prestigious award for Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” Jennifer Jason Leigh. And in the episodic role of a lover-colleague flashed David Gyasi (“Carnival Row”).
Changing illusory world
In addition to familiar faces, the undoubted advantages of Garland’s brainchild are unpredictable plot development and amazing visuals. When the girls enter the rainbow “veil”, they are presented with landscapes that look like illustrations for fantasy or fairy tales by Grimm and Perrault. Where unicorns graze on luscious emerald grass, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle is hidden behind a wall of living intricately intertwined hedges.
But not everything is so radiant. A mixture of a crocodile and a shark, as if the body of a poor fellow-military has grown into a scaly “pedestal”, the already mentioned monster, vaguely resembling a clubfoot. It’s scary, but you can’t stop. The biologist takes his own blood for analysis and sees that it has also mutated. It turns out that Flicker, like a magic wand, changes any object. And the lion’s share of mutations is by no means harmless.
How did the movie end
Having lost most of the team, Ventress, and then the main character, reach the epicenter of the phenomenon of extraterrestrial origin. Lina learns that it was not her husband who returned home. And she becomes a witness to the death of a companion who has experienced a bewitchingly terrible metamorphosis.
Before the eyes of the amazed scientist, a formless subject was born. The stranger caught her drop of blood and became like a mirror image, copying every gesture of the researcher. Ah, this mesmerizing “dance”! After a short struggle, the girl outwitted the enemy and destroyed all the offspring of the zone with a grenade explosion.
She tells Lomax (Benedict Wong) about her odyssey while locked in the same institute. What is shown in the film is her explanation of what happened. False Kane cured. The couple is happy to meet. The wife is sure that in front of her is a double of her beloved, and he asks: “Are you Lina?”, But does not wait for an answer. Both of them have twinkle flashes in their eyes.
The meaning of the ending
Interaction with an unknown force (whether it is reasonable or not – the question is open) did not pass without a trace for the biologist. The woman came into direct contact with the transformative energy – just like animals, trees, bushes and plants in the park and on the beach. That is why she took away a bit of cosmic radiance from the lighthouse – how it blazes in the iris of the eyes. And how it will affect the body, what it threatens, whether it will grow again – the viewer is free to think out for himself.
As for the false Kane, no one knows what the second birth of the commando will turn into. It is already strange that it did not burn down, like the rest of the “works of extraterrestrial art.” But it’s hard to believe in a happy ending. Already very “smoothly”: just weakened every hour and vomited blood clots, and now got up and went.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Annihilation” is fraught with a catch. Since everything is known only from the words of the interrogated woman, what prevented her from lying? Suppose that in that duel it was not the dugout who won, but the guest. And the double returned to the base. Assuming this, it’s understandable why some fans dispute the survival and return of Portman’s character.
Will we get clarity?
What this werewolf is up to, where he came into our world from, why – the audience could find out if the Briton made a sequel. After all, Vandermeer’s inspiration was not exhausted by the primary source, he released three books in the cycle. Surely fans of science fiction know the answer, and we do not want to spoil the impression and “catch” spoilers.
Whether the second part of the film franchise is destined to be born is a question. Despite critical acclaim and a top spot on 2018’s best sci-fi list, $43 million in the age of blockbusters equals box office failure. Which means cinemas won’t see Garland’s Flicker stuff anymore. Whether Netflix will want to order a sequel is unclear. In the meantime, the court and the case, the director launched another project – the series “Developed” for a slightly less solid than competitors, Hulu platform …