Originally posted on August 20, 2010
Air Doll is a 2009 Japanese film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (Nobody Knows, Still Walking) and stars South Korean actress Bae Doona who I have also seen in Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. It’s about a life-size inflatable doll, Nozomi, used by its owner as a sex toy. She later develops human-like consciousness and falls in love with a human being. Sounds Pinocchio-ish? Well, Air Doll may sound as tender as the fairy tale but it tackles more mature and sensitive topics such as alienation, whether self-imposed or not, loss of innocence, and loneliness. It questions the humanity of human beings today and asks the philosophical query of what it really means to be human.
Minor characters in the film include a poet who feels abandoned by the world; a grumpy, old woman, a video store owner who chooses to live his life on his own; and his assistant, Junichi, Nozomi’s love interest, who appears to have given up on life after breaking up with a girlfriend, thus telling Nozomi once that he, himself, is an air doll; a middle aged woman who feels insecure with younger women; a woman who has an eating problem and locks herself in her room all day; and Nozomi’s owner who prefers to have sex with a doll rather than a real person.
Are human beings empty? You wake up in the morning, you fix your hair and your bed. Go to the bathroom and wash your face and brush your teeth. Eat your breakfast. You swiftly leave the house to work or school with your face still blank while passing by a series of human beings who are equally “lifeless”, bombarded by neverending questions like “am I late for work or school?” or “is he cheating on me?” or “do I still have money?” failing to notice that when you woke up, there were birds chirping outside your window, or the sky was exquisitely blue today, or how tasty your breakfast was or how sweet your dream last night was. Sadly, human beings today have been reduced to nothing but empty dolls walking this piece of earth without a definite direction. Nowadays, they prefer to be alone than have someone with them for individual reasons. Like I for example. I must admit, I do love to wallow in loneliness like it’s the home where I live. For some weird reason, I choose to feel lonely than happy at times. Maybe because I am writer, or so I think I am. And misery is a writer’s only company. I mostly find my inspiration in loneliness. But I do want to be happy. Well maybe I’m a different case. Maybe it’s self-imposed alienation. I have this belief that I am an independent person and I could definitely go living a lifetime alone, I mean without a partner in life. My point is, I don’t need anyone to complete me.
No one can complete me. This idea is what the movie tries to contradict. Let me make it clearer by sharing with you the poem from the film:
It seems life is constructed in a way that no one can fulfill it alone.
Life contains its own absence, which only another can fulfill.
It seems the world is the summation of others and yet,
we neither know nor are told that we will fulfill each other.
We lead our scattered lives, perfectly unaware of each other or at times,
allowed to find the other’s presence disagreeable.
Why is it, that the world is constructed so loosely?
Apparently, this certain part of the movie tells us how we all need each other, that life is to be lived with someone by your side. This line really struck me because of the utter honesty in it.
Why do we tend to alienate ourselves and blindfold ourselves from the beauty of our world? This is another theme that really hit me. Our world certainly has changed that we now fail to recognize the pretty, little details it has in store for us everyday like the beautiful sunrise in the morning and the crowing of the rooster. Good for me, I don’t forget how these little things make me happy. I always get this dose of nostalgia every time I dream of going back to childhood and the places I’ve been when I was a child. I miss playing post cards and all; or roaming around our barangay playing with other children. In a span of twenty years, I’ve seen how the world has changed. I certainly miss how it used to be. How I used to sweep my elementary classroom’s floor or play badminton under the sun. Gawd, the days…
Are we as empty as an air doll? Well, but there is hope. We all just have to look outside our windows and feel the morning air caress the thinness of our skin; or smile to anyone we meet on the street on our way to work or school.
The world is still…