"Is this going to be my 'geekification'?" I wondered aloud when Rob revealed his choice for movie night: The Iron Giant.
"I thought it would give you something to write about."
And it certainly would have, if Slant hadn't already said everything I would say much better than I could possibly say it.
The Iron Giant is not the geeks-only fare I imagined it would be. Yes, an enormous, possibly-from-space, possibly alive (in the Short Circuit sense of the word) metal man fits pretty seamlessly into my partner's beloved fantastical science-fiction genre. And it's certainly an interesting film to watch now, 12 years after its release, with a retro-future aesthetic zooming through the zeitgeist. But I was also reminded of the Gothic novel. The titular Iron Giant is a Cold War version of the monster in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Technology, secrecy, monsters, and the idea of dangerous knowledge are all pervasive themes in The Iron Giant. What I find most interesting, however - besides the literary parallels - is the film's anti-gun message. The Giant becomes hostile in the presence of any gun. At the sight of a hunting rifle, the Giant's eyes turn red - the sci-fi shorthand for "This robot will totally fucking kill you." But, as the film's nine-year-old hero reminds the Giant, "It's bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don't have to be a gun." Notably, however, for a film with what seems to be such a strong anti-gun (and by extension, anti-war) position, the military is presented as rational, and even sympathetic. The villain of the piece is a power-hungry civilian who throws his weight around via super-secret government agency credentials.
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Other fun things about The Iron Giant:
- The film is produced in CinemaScope, a popular widescreen format in the late 1950s.
- The Giant was created using CGI, while the human characters are traditional cell animation. In this way, the medium itself - animation - supports both the Giant's "otherness" and contributes to the film's retro-future look and feel.
- The ending totally makes Rob cry. Because he's adorable.