Monday, August 17, 2015

Once upon a mogwai...

I saw "Gremlins" when I was a kid, but I watched the DVD version I purchased for $4 a few days ago and it was not the movie I remembered. There seemed to be such depth to the little character Gizmo, who is so much more than just small, adorable, and kind of helpless in a human world where everything is so much bigger than he is.

In the beginning, however, he is not an agent in his own life. He is put inside a box and taken away from Mr. Wing; falls into a garbage can headfirst and has to be rescued and bandaged; and has water spilled on him which, in addition to creating more mogwais, seems to sting and burn him. If he underwent his metamorphosis and became a full-fledged gremlin, these things would not be happening to him. He would have all the capabilities we see in the scaly monsters later on in the movie. But even when he's offered chicken, Gizmo refuses and lets the opportunity to become bigger (and badder) pass by him. He makes a choice - presumably one that he has made more than once - to remain in what is essentially a larval stage.

Gizmo also helps kill other gremlins, which left me wondering: How does he feel about his own capacity to become just as cunning, murderous, and evil? Is he a happy little singing mogwai all the time, or is he sometimes sad that he carries with him the ability to turn into a gremlin?

Perhaps, but perhaps not. By the end of "Gremlins", our mogwai has gotten a bit tired of being hauled around in a backpack and decides to take matters into his own hands (paws?). He skillfully drives a toy car into a greenhouse to outmaneuver the gremlin mastermind Stripe, whom he manages to fatally wound with direct sunlight. Move aside, humans. The inches-tall rubber puppet is the true hero of this movie, proving to himself that he doesn't need to be bigger or badder in order to be the one who saves the day.

Even before I had seen Gizmo, when he was burbling and singing to himself in the back of the store in his little box, I was kind of enchanted. I wanted there to be more to him than just big round eyes and a vocabulary that included "light bright!" for any brilliant light source and "woof woof!" for dogs. So I'm very glad that he got his own character arc and could grow and change as the movie progressed - a metamorphosis entirely of his own choosing, and just as powerful as the one the gremlins undergo.

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