There are details in our lives that go unnoticed, and authors and filmmakers love to use their imagination to explore the possibilities that might exist under our noses. Who hasn’t seen the flying plastic grocery bags that are the tumbleweeds of today’s society?
What if they were alive? What if they were like us, and could think and feel?
This is the idea behind “Plastic Bag”, an intriguing short film written and directed by Ramin Bahrani, which is available online at the YouTube Screening Room channel.
We begin our journey at the leap of faith, as the bag is about to enter the ocean. He takes a moment to review his life from his first moments of consciousness: his first meeting with “his maker”, who takes him home and presses him into service, carrying groceries and tennis balls.
Their peaceful co-existence is suddenly cut short, as he finds himself used and disposed of into a landfill. Once the bag’s contents have decomposed, he is set free to wander his environment in search of his maker, and “the Vortex”.
The most compelling part of this film is not the fact that the main character is a plastic bag. Through the effective use of music and an earnest voiceover by Herner Werzog, we are taken on a journey through the human condition through the “eyes” of a plastic bag that man has created, but can’t be destroyed.
There is an outsider quality to the main character that is easily identified with; a sense of not belonging to the world we inhabit, and searching for meaning. Each frame is beautifully filmed, and the music perfectly frames the loneliness and longing the main character “feels”. There’s a disclaimer at the end of the film that says that no animals were harmed, and no digital effects were used in the making of this film, which seems all the more incredible considering the shots that were made.
It’s a film where we find ourselves laughing initially, at the very idea of an inanimate object – a plastic bag – thinking and feeling and experiencing life as we do; a world beyond our awareness, and yet, by the end, the poignancy of the journey that’s been made and the feelings unearthed can’t be denied.
The movie becomes a commentary on such themes as our treatment of the environment, consumerism, our relationship with God and religion, loneliness, the fleeting search for love and connection, and even death.
There are no scenes that viewers might conceivable see as objectionable for children. It’s a thought-provoking film that is highly recommended for anyone.