July 2013


Folks might tell you Pacific Rim is about “Monsters and Giant Robots!” 
They’re only half right. 
There’s a lot more going on in this film and I’ll try to convince you that Pacific Rim is really about: 
Growing up, releasing your ego attachment to your past and to your family. 

I can hear your groans of disbelief right now but here’s my argument. 

1. THE UMBILICAL CORD THEME
In the scene where the baby monster bursts from its monster mother, it is choked to death because it is still connected to its umbilical cord. You could say it was still tethered to its past, the previous generation, and could not proceed. That attachment killed it. 
In the model that is continually shown of the breech between our world and the other world, it appears as a ‘tether’ a connection or umbilical cord. 

2. WE NEED TO BREAK ATTACHMENT, NOT FIGHT THE SYMPTOMS 
This movie contains the ‘need to blow up the center of the death star’, ‘kill the queen alien’, ‘destroy the mother ship’ trope. It’s a common one. You’ll often see it as the ‘kill the witch and all her minions and spells will be vanquished.’ 
Here, this is (as I argue) the ‘break the attachment’/Buddhism theme. They need to cut off the umbilical cord connection to the other world, not just keep fighting the things that jump out from it. 
We see the clearest example of this when during a battle scene, the Robot’s arm crashes through an office building and gently clicks one of those desktop ‘Newton’s Cradle’ things–you know, those ‘hanging clicking balls’ things. 
This tap of the Newton’s Cradle is an image of karma…that there will always be an equal pushback and effect. Sure, the robot’s could keep getting stronger but so would the monsters. You need to get to the source. Break the attachment. 
Before you argue that the Newton’s Cradle is ‘just cute!’ consider its placement within the frame I’m presenting.

3. ATTACHMENT IN PACIFIC RIM IS ABOUT GENERATIONAL RELATIONSHIP AND MEMORY. 
The lead character (Raleigh Becket played by Charlie Hunnam) is very connected to his twin. He grieves, and grows from the loss and is able to then find new trust and connection from a new equal/peer/lover. 
The leader of the missions, Pentecost (played by Idris Elba) finally gives up the attachment to his ‘adopted’ daughter Mako (played by Rinko Kikuchi) when he hands her the red shoe he had been holding onto and allows her to go into battle. 
Just as children must let go of their family connection attachment to become fully adult, so adults need to let go of their attachments to their children to allow their children to flourish and allow themselves to continue in their own flourishing. 
To connect effectively with another robot driver, one has to ‘let go’ of thought and memory. At one point Raleigh says that the ‘drift’ is silence. A Jaeger driver may be drift compatible with another, and may have access to the equipment to meld, but they still have to ‘let go’ of their attachments. 

4. NON ATTACHMENT TO THE PAST, AND FAMILY RELATIONS ALLOWS YOU TO FLOURISH AND FIND LOVE AS AN ADULT. 
Note that upon severing the umbilical ‘breach’ to the other world, Miko and Raleigh then rise to the ocean surface in what look like coffins. They emerge from those ‘raft/buoy/coffins’ and connect in a kiss. Their new lives are in a sense resurrected as adults to freely love because of non-attachment. 
This adult love does not need to mean necessarily ‘romantic love’ though here it is pictured as such. 
Of course the ‘subliminal as underwater’ theme is likely throughout the film. 

 

I hope that this brief analysis of what Pacific Rim is really about was helpful to you! 
Surely there are more interpretations of the film and I welcome your suggestions, critiques, and differing viewpoints! 

MindFlowers

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There once were Five Little Pigs.
Together they owned a party pavilion which stood at the end of the Santa Monica Pier.
It was very grand! Each week all the barnyard animals who liked to dance would dress up
in their finest glad rags and come to the Pigs’ Club Foot to dance!
The band was the swinging-est, most danceable, most absolutely Moo-rageous band in town!
They were called “Joyful Cow-tenence” and they specialized in Moo-sic that made you want to dance!
“Joyful Cow-tenence” was a ten piece band and they all played the Cow Bell. Exclusively Cow Bell.
Do you like to dance? Dancing makes me feel udder-ly amazing!

The Five Little Pigs were named Piggly Piggleton, Wiggly Tail, Oink-Oink, Super Pig, and Jeff.
They all loved to dance. They were very happy to see so many barnyard animals dancing happily
together. (We’ll come back to these five pigs in a bit so don’t forget them!)

Every week everyone would come to Club Foot for the best toe-tapping fun around!

One day, Ms. Chicken (who specialized in the Chicken Dance) brought a giant apple pie to share with
all the barnyard animals to celebrate Arbor Day. It was as big as a swimming pool and it smelled so good everyone wanted to
dive right in!

But some of the older animals hadn’t arrived yet!
“Wait!” Said Ms. Chicken. “This pie is for everyone to share! We should wait until all the barnyard animals
are here and then we can each share a piece.”
Everyone agreed that Ms. Chicken had a delicious idea and found her apple pie idea aPEELing!

Ms. Chicken set the pie on top of the Santa Monica roller coaster where it wouldn’t get danced on and the band played
beautiful MOOsic that the sheep said sounded ‘BLEATiful.’ And everyone had a great time.

Finally, the oldest horse from the barn, Mister Horseradish came slowly sauntering into Club Foot.
Everyone celebrated because they loved Mister Horseradish and also because they could now share the yummy smelling
apple pie!
Yum! Every dessert tastes better when it is shared with animals you love!

But when Ms. Chicken got to the top of the roller coaster to get the pie, she found a surprise!
This Arbor Day party had turned into a Surprise Arbor Day Party because someone….
(Can you guess what happened? What do you think happened?)

Someone had brought a whole buncha vanilla ice cream and put it right there next to the apple pie!
Wow!

And all the animals had their share and celebrated trees with Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream.
Now, apple trees were of course especially celebrated, and vanilla bean plants were also greatly appreciated,
as well as sugar cane plants, wheat, and cinnamon trees. But all the animals loved all trees.

Mr. Horseradish had even brought some seeds to plant and little seedlings to give away!

Everyone was having a great party….except Sally Badger. Sally Badger was scratching her head.
There was a mystery afoot and she wanted to get to the bottom of it!

You see, mysteries abound all around us. Every time an inventor invents, or an artist arts, or a musician musics, mysteries are being solved. Math problems, questions, puzzles, riddles, unknowns….they’re all mysteries! And mysteries are fun to solve.

And Sally loved to solve them. She was a gumshoe, or detective. She loved to do math, learn science, build, create, study, read, play, explore! And during the Arbor Day Party she found a mystery as he dug a hole to plant a seedling Mr. Horseradish had given him.
As she dug into the dirt with his tough badger paws, she found that someone had buried their slice of apple pie!
How strange! How mysterious!
She used all the senses she knew to find clues: she looked, sniffed, touched, listened, and yes….tasted!
She needed more information so she began to ask the barnyard animals questions.

Sally heard it from a rooster that a “some mysterious figure had been seen near the spot where the apple pie had been buried.”
Sally knew that the Five Little Pigs that owned Club Foot always had their hooves on the pulse of Santa Monica and knew all the gossip. One of the Five Pigs would have to know!

Sally asked Piggly Piggleton if she knew who buried the piece of pie in the ground.
“I have used all my senses to figure it out but still I’m stumped! Piggly, is there any info that you can give me, any deets? Any data, any facts? I’m all ears, eyes, mouth, nose, and badger paws!”
Piggly snuffled.
“Well Sally have you used all your senses so far?”
“Yup!”
“Did you use your sense of balance? Your feeling of intuition? Your interior feelings of being full or hungry or having a headache? Did you use your sense of right and wrong?”
“Well…I guess I didn’t know we have so many senses Piggly!”
“I’m a gumshoe detective too Sally, and I’ve learned that there’s all kinds of ways to figure things out. I once tried to figure out if a flower was pretty by looking at it but it didn’t work. I needed to also use my sense of beauty.”
“I see,” Said Sally. “And was the flower pretty Piggly?”
“Yes. It was a beautiful rose. I can still see it in my memory.” Piggly snuffled again. “And as to that apple pie that had been so craftily and sneakily snuck away underground–I haven’t the foggiest. I wasn’t around at the time. I had gone to market.”
“Aha. I see. Well thank you Piggly!”

Sally Badger went off and found Wiggly Tail playing beach volleyball.
“Excuse me Wiggly, I was wondering if you knew who buried a piece of apple pie in the ground.”
“Ahhhhh. Yes. The apple pie!” Said Wiggly Tail as he put down his volleyball and wiggled his tail.
“So you know about the mysterious buried apple pie!”
“Well, I don’t know about any specific buried apple pie but I can use my imagination to see how it must have been. I can see it right now in my mind.” Wiggly wiggled and giggled.
“Well Wiggly, I want to know about a very specific piece of apple pie that someone strangely buried.”
“In my imagination I see someone burying it with a tiny spoon and they are wearing a bicycle for a hat and they are laughing butterflies.” Wiggly looked very serious as he said that last part. “My imagination surprises even myself sometimes.” And then he wiggled.
“So you didn’t see anything yourself with your eyes huh?”
“No, when the apple pie was being served I wasn’t there for I had stayed home.”
“Hmmm. Okay. Thanks Wiggly.”

Sally Badger was presently no closer to the answer but she never gave up! Sometimes solving problems was difficult, but Sally stuck with it!
She next found Oink-Oink and Super Pig standing atop a pile of rubble. Oink Oink was holding Super Pig in a cradling and loving sort of way.
“What’s all this? It looks like a storm has just come through here!” Sally gasped.
“This? Oh, this was the work of Doctor Haymem. A very villainous villain she is indeed!” Said Oink-Oink.
“Doctor who?”
“No, Doctor Haymem!” Oink Oink corrected. “She’s a meteorologist who always predicts tornadoes and if she’s wrong, she makes her own tornadoes. She’s a bit of a bother, really.”
“Yeah, a real bummer.” Groaned Super Pig.
“But we took care of all that nonsense, Sally. What can we do for you?” Said Oink Oink looking quite heroic.
“Well, you could tell me if you know anything about who might have buried a piece of apple pie?” Sally asked.
“Sally, you are ever the inquisitive badger!” Oink Oink yelled out , carrying Super Pig down off the pile of assorted crumbled buildings.
“I didn’t mean to badger you, I just wondered…I wanted to know…I so much like to solve mysteries, you see.” Sally said as she removed her detective hat and kneaded it in her paws.
“Sally, I love that about you! Love it!” Oink Oink exclaimed. “Super Pig here and I could not tell you a thing about that apple pie for we were out and about doing different things when the dessert was served.”
“Were you two together?”
“No, we were out to dinner at the time at the Tofu Hut.” Oink Oink set Super Pig safely down on the hood of a ’68 Ford. “I remember it well. One of us had forgotten to bring their money you see–” Oink Oink nodded in the direction of Super Pig “And so we could only afford a little bit of Tofu and Super Pig gave me all of it.”
“That is a bit strange isn’t it? I mean, that Super Pig gave you all the Tofu?”
“Tofu is no matter when love is involved, Sally. You see there is a sense of love that when one feels it, you just can’t help but give up Tofu for the Pig you love.”
“Wow. Super Pig. What a wonderful…strange…mysterious…”
“Oink Oink does the same for me!” Super Pig rustled up from the hood of the car, all wrapped up in a long bright red cape.
“That’s the way of love. Oink Oink gives me the Tofu just as often as not. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!”
“And what’s good for the Pig is good for the Super Pig.” Oink Oink said softly with a gentle snout rub against Super Pig’s cape.
“So one had Tofu and the other had none…” Sally concluded.
She was no nearer an answer!

The day was winding down. The sun was setting over the part of the sky that Sally guessed was the West because that was where the Sun usually set, but she didn’t have her compass with her so she couldn’t be sure.
She found the last little piggy Jeff sitting on his porch, drinking a glass of Slop.
“Sally!” Jeff greeted. “I do hope you bear me the gift of your company!”
She could not decline him. She sidled up alongside him taking a seat in the rocking chair next to him.
“Have some Slop, Sally!” He handed her a glass.
“Thank you.” She said, being polite. “I have a question for you Jeff.”
“Shoot.”
“Do you know anything about who might have buried apple pie in the ground?”
Jeff stared off in the distance for a while.
“That sure is peculiar isn’t it?” He said. “Whoever did that sure was…creative.”
“I want to know! Who would do such a thing?!”
“Sally, sometimes there are questions that have no answers. Each evening I come out here to my porch and I see the sunset and I ask myself: ‘how could the simple act of the sun setting be so amazing?'”
“Actually Jeff, it’s not the Sun setting, it’s the Earth rotating.”
Jeff laughed. “Well that’s even more amazing!”
Sally was not laughing. “Who would bury apple pie!? That’s just plain silly!”
“Silly Sally? Silly is the best mystery of all. The strangeness that just gets you all wound up and frustrated until all you can do but laugh. That’s my kinda mystery!” And Jeff did start laughing.
And his laugh was just mysterious enough and….well silly enough to get Sally laughing too.
She had a second glass of Slop and said her goodnights to Jeff.
She set off down the path.
There, along the winding path where she had found the apple pie buried down in the ground earlier stood a giant Apple Pie Tree! It was as tall as the barn and it was sprouting slices of apple pie!
There were children and baby chickens nibbling at the delicious sprouts.
Some were holding their pie next to a knot in the tree that instead of oozing sap was oozing whipped cream.

Sally stood amazed. It was so…so…silly!
Sally started to laugh. It was a high ‘hee hee hee’ sounding laugh and it made her feel good.
And Sally went ‘hee hee hee’ all the way home.