Analyzing Film Paper
(Word count: 683)
The Human Reach
It is a human characteristic to desire. Humans are obsessed with bettering their circumstances, whether it is within an occupation or within recreational circumstances. In the short film Reach, a robot, which reflects many human qualities, illustrates the human yearning for betterment within a much smaller world. The robot unsuccessfully journeys to freedom, destroying itself in the process and manifesting how humans tend to disregard important aspects of their lives for the pursuit of a goal. The robot’s journey (from learning how to walk in the beginning and then failing to reach the window at the end) parallels the existence of a person who is blinded by the attainment of a goal (i.e. reaching the window). Reach employs a humanized robot in order to draw attention to the over-ambitious, or self-destructive, nature of human beings.
The stack of books and the screws depict how blind humans can be to the repercussions of being over-ambitious. In the beginning of the film, the robot first spots the screws, running to them and ignoring the books (1:58). The screws signify the means of production, a metaphor for the tools one needs to succeed. Yet, the way the robot childishly handles the screws (exemplified by how the robot throws them up in the air in celebration [2:01]) suggests that humans rush to be successful without truly understanding how to carry out their plan. There is a certain naivety in rushing to complete a goal and not taking the time to meticulously organize one’s way to success. Essentially, by ignoring the books, which represent education or the ability to act wisely, the robot sets itself up for failure.
The screws end up inhibiting the robot’s success; furthering the argument that acting blindly in pursuit of a goal can only be detrimental. Mesmerized by the bird and the freedom that exists beyond the window, the robot goes through a trial and error process to get out of the room. It pulls the cord that connects it to the power source until the power source lodges on a screw (2:43). The robot never even looks back at the screw let alone contemplates whether it should try to remove it. This inability to think during the pursuit of the goal is detrimental, eventually killing the robot. Essentially, Reach shows that without reflection humans will hurdle themselves toward their goal without regard for their lives in a robotic and mindless fashion.
The film’s final mise-en-scène (3:31) shows the robot under the window, the books and an errant screw from left to right. The close but significant physical distances between these three objects express how humans do not always see the tools, the knowledge, the goal, as interconnected. This is not to say that humans do not value education as a means of achieving success, but it is natural to be enticed by instant gratification. Essentially, this final scene illustrates how being consumed by immediate success leads to demise. The window above the robot shows how the goal is literally out of the robot’s reach. The untouched books represent ignorance of the value of a slower, more gradual process to success. Lastly, the lone screw, which is small and almost insignificant in appearance, represents the stupidity of not considering the use of certain tools that could aid in achieving the goal.
Reach uses a human-like robot to underline the over-aspiring, or self-damaging, tendencies of humanity. The Victorian wallpaper existing in the background of the main mise-en-scène antiquates the room, suggesting that humanity’s over-ambitious nature should be abandoned. Reach mainly communicates the need to substantiate one’s journey to success with knowledge and wisdom. If the robot had stopped to think about its circumstance, it probably would have waited to be charged and then detach itself from the cord in order to travel a further distance. Its urgency to reach the goal, however, prevailed, leading to its death. Much like transitory battery life that made the robot doomed to fail the window from the beginning, a human only lives so long. Reach thus ultimately comments on the fleeting nature of humanity and how goals are rendered meaningless by death.