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Magnetic Rose: the certitude of memory only affirms the reality of the present

To be entirely honest, I haven’t followed Satoshi Kon despite many people telling me to watch his movies. I still haven’t seen Paprika, although after seeing Magnetic Rose, it’s probably a must-watch. Magnetic Rose carries the entire anthology all the way through, and it’s no surprise that it was written by Satoshi Kon.

All she had left was her past.

Magnetic Rose

When I was younger, I thought Event Horizon was one of the best films ever made. I’ve grown older, but I still really like it, although I’ve seen a lot more films I feel are more deserving with that description. It came out back in 1997; maybe it got some hints from Magnetic Rose, as the premises of both films are quite similar: a drifting ship answers a distress signal, only to discover entities more insidious from the seemingly abandoned ships. In Event Horizon the entities were more monstrous; in Magnetic Rose it was less paranormal, but still as devious: the years have transmogrified the AI of the ship’s computer to realizing the memories that the opera singer Eve Friedel dwelt in, and it vividly recreated events to suck in people responding to the distress signals it sent.

The story is simple: Eva Friedel spiralled downwards because she fell in love with a man who loved her only for her popularity. When she lost her voice her fiance desired to break up with her; because she could never let her go she murdered him, and created a world where only the great achievements of her past were reflected and played over and over again.

I must first ask forgiveness because I seemed to have lost my edge with regard to writing properly: I have not finished a novel in four months, and the busyness of my previous year prevented me from honing my ability to express myself. The film wasn’t one imbued with symbolism; I was, however, pleased with how the title reflected the inability of Friedel to move on with her life. Success in life never fails to be marred by failure, whether public or private, and what people often do is deal with it and push forward. The tragedy is not with the crew being decimated by the broken AI: ultimately, the tragedy is of Friedel’s inability to accept that everyone fails at some point in their lives, destroying not only her life, but of countless others because of her selfishness. Were it not for her desire, like a whirlpool, to suck other people to only look at her, people would not have died. Because she wanted to be remembered, however, even in the most fleeting ways she designed a computer to simulate the memories of her past. For my part, however, I believe that our memories reaffirm the reality of our present: our past built us up to become what we are. While it’s something to be respected and remembered, I don’t think it’s something to be dwelt on.

Could we entirely say that Heintz triumphed in the end? Perhaps, but it is no more than a Pyrrhic victory. He may have triumphed over being overcome by the lure of the past, but he still lost his crew and he will never get back his child. He is Friedel’s antithesis, however, because despite the inviting memories, he pushes on forward with his life, and thus escapes with it. It may not be as memorable or as coruscating as Friedel’s, but he wins because he accepts that he must forge on. One can enjoy his achievements in the past, but one must never forget that he always faces the present.

I initially saved space for Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder, but I didn’t think they were worthy of mention especially in light of the brilliance of Magnetic Rose. The only mistake Katsuhiro Otomo had in Memories was probably think that his direction was better than the other films. Stink Bomb and Cannon Fodder may not be watched. They’re just mediocre compared to Magnetic Rose. Memories was bogged down because of the latter films: had it been released solely with Magnetic Rose, it would have been a masterpiece.