The meaning of the film “Symbol” (2009), plot, explanation of the ending

Cupids, cataclysms and phalluses: analysis of the art-house comedy “Symbol”

Country: Japan

Genre: art house, comedy, fantasy

Year of production: 2009

Directed by: Hitoshi Matsumoto

Cast: Hitoshi Matsumoto, David Quiterro, Luis Accinelli, Lilian Tapia

Awards and Nominations: 2010 Asian Film Awards nominations (Best Actor and Best Special Effects)

The meaning of the film “Symbol” (Shinboru), the brainchild of the famous Japanese comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto, will definitely not be able to decipher. Such are many works in the art house genre: what is valuable here, first of all, are the ways in which the director immerses you in his world, and what topics he raises. Finding the only clue in them is difficult, and sometimes there is no need.

What is the movie about

In a remote Mexican town, a wrestler nicknamed the Snail Man is about to take part in an important fight: the fight for the championship belt. His opponent is young and daring – you will have to try hard to defeat him. We see the house of the fighter, his relatives. Father-in-law and son come to watch the fight and support the father of the family.

Another storyline is dedicated to the Japanese in colorful pajamas. We won’t know who he is, we won’t even know his name. It is not known how the man ended up in a room with white walls without doors and windows. Looking closely, the hero sees that something is sticking out of the wall. It turns out that this is the penis of a white angel, similar to Cupid. Immediately the deity itself appears with its fellows. Laughing, they fill the space with themselves and again merge with the walls, leaving the genitals outside.

Hero in bright pajamas.The hero in bright pajamas, played by Hitoshi Matsumoto. Frame from the film.

The hero finds out that when you click on the protruding genitals of creatures, various objects appear in the room. One of the “switches” even opens the door. But in order to open it and get into the next room, a person in pajamas has to use ingenuity, using the available tools at hand.

For a while, the hero finds himself in a room even smaller in size. There, he seems to be nostalgically replaying in his head how he would continue to use the items in the previous room. Suddenly it turns out that one of the walls can be pushed aside and go further. A man runs along a long corridor and finds himself in another, this time dark, room. In it, he sees angels disappearing into the wall again and again leaving “genitals-switches” outside.

We are shown the fight of the Snail Man – he is close to defeat. But the ending of the battle suddenly turns in his favor, thanks to the decisive pressing of the man in pajamas on the “penis switch”. The neck of the fighter is stretched and he knocks out the enemy first, and when pressed again, the partner, the judge, the leader, even his little son, who entered the ring.

New episode: A band similar to Kiss is playing in Los Angeles. Pressing the pajama man on another “switch” causes a huge stream of flames from the vocalist’s mouth. Clicking on another one breaks the focus on the air of the Ivan Magic Show program on Russian television, another one – makes a man sitting somewhere in China next to a pack of dogs bark.

rock band concertFrame from the film.

A man in pajamas sees an angel flying somewhere far above in a circle of light, and decides to climb up the “switches”. Every step affects something in the human world: flowers open, animals appear and die, accidents occur, houses collapse, someone wins, someone loses, fireworks burn, solemn processions take place, a rocket takes off into space.

After the last event, the hero suddenly starts to fly up by himself. His hair and beard have already grown, his clothes have turned white, and events continue to occur. They are bigger and bigger: wars, typhoons, melting glaciers, fires, volcanic eruptions. While flying, a person passionately and purposefully waves his arms and suddenly freezes. Its body continues to carry upward among swirling white feathers.

In the end, under the singing of monastic voices, he falls into the spot of the saint and finds himself in a new room. There he hears the echoes of human civilization, the outline of the continents of the planet Earth appears on the wall. In front of him, a person sees a huge “penis-switch”. He walks up to him and is about to press.

The meaning of the film

Immediately, we note how the director of “Symbol” plays on the expectations of the audience and deceives them. We immediately try to find an explanation for what is happening with the man in pajamas. But analysis into details does not give anything – the description of the hero’s adventures in the white room is more like a prank. Attempts to connect the content of the two storylines with each other also lead to nothing, because there was almost no connection as such, as well as a special hidden meaning in the “Mexican story”. It just turned out that a man in pajamas with the help of a “switch” was able to influence her, as well as many other events on planet Earth.

Closer to the denouement, we still begin to see some meaning. At least in the history of the man in pajamas. And the author, although laughing at his heroes and viewers, clearly laid this meaning – nevertheless, the division into chapters “Study”, “Application” and “Future” is not accidental.

angels and man in pajamasFrame from the film.

Maybe a man in pajamas is a symbol of all mankind? At the learning stage, his behavior is very similar to that of a savage who, by trial and error, explores the world around him, screams, complains, prays, and eventually finds a way to literally make a leap forward. After that, he, already burdened with progress, receives unprecedented opportunities. But he is not aware of the serious and sometimes fatal for all consequences of his actions at the stage of application. Only in the end does he acquire wisdom, which is hinted at by changes in clothes, on his face, in his eyes.

Such an interpretation seems plausible, but even in the “Symbol” there is an additional, religious, subtext. The storyline about the Snail Man also cautiously hints at him. His daughter is a nun (we note that at the beginning she quickly rides along those same feathers of angels), there is a church in the film, Christian crosses and icons flicker, the son desperately believes in his father, arguing with classmates that this fighter is really strong.

Because of faith, the boy ends up suffering, receiving a powerful blow from his father. But the blow is the result of the actions of a man in pajamas who does not even understand what he is doing. At first, his behavior is similar to that of a child. This is a child god who only gains wisdom over time, and before that he acts almost spontaneously, capriciously every now and then.

This idea, expressed in this way in the “Symbol” (although this is far from being heard in literature and cinema for the first time), runs counter to the main religions, in the center of which is a wise, understanding, loving God-father. But if it exists, no one knows how things really are. Maybe he, like us, is trying to figure out who he is. And also to find out what the angels around want from him?

Ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the film “Symbol”, as well as the meaning of the whole picture, gives ground for reflection, but does not allow us to draw an unambiguous conclusion. Probably, a man in pajamas, who nevertheless became a real wise god, as many believers imagine him, will face an even greater challenge. His pressing on a large penis will have global significance – perhaps not only for humanity, but for the entire universe. However, the hero, perhaps, has no choice: he will press the “switch” and radically change the future.

In the end, as well as throughout the film, the director continues to laugh at humanity, at this stupid god, calling on the audience to be ironic. Our history is both great and ridiculous.

We ourselves are savage babies at the beginning and not much better at the height of scientific progress (how many people think how exactly this or that button of an invention created thanks to discoveries works? – the momentary result is important for us). We can only hope that, like the main character, we will “fly through” all the cataclysms and gain real wisdom in the future. Perhaps this is the explanation of the ending and the essence of the film “Symbol”. Well, let’s laugh at ourselves and move on – we probably have no other choice.

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