Since its release, critics have evaluated ‘Rango’ from technical, artistic, thematic, psychological and feminist perspectives. However, the role and purpose of nature in ‘Rango’ remains unexplored. This study, from an ecocritical perspective, aims to discover the aqua politics of the elite to exploit the local community through controlling water resources. This qualitative research is carried out within the framework of literary and semiotic, fiction and history of the genre, animated movies. It is premised upon an explanatory and interpretative analysis of the chosen movie. The current research also evaluates the impact of water politics on the construction of individual identities. In addition, the research looks at issues of Ecofeminism addressed in the movie. After watching the movie and reading the text of that movie, semiotical and close readings have been applied to explore the water politics, aqua politics, and Ecofeminism. The study concludes that in the contemporary technological advance area in which other than super-power of the world, like America, Russia and China, the other less powerful yet potentially threatening countries of the world that possess weapons of mass destruction can prove highly dangerous for the world peace and, while the water resources are assuming prime importance in developing the energy resources of different countries.
Rango, Feminist, Ecofeminism, Semiotics
Eco-criticism, Animation Movie, Nature, Hydro Politics and Hydro Hegemony are the words that come to our mind when we watch Rango with Eco critical lense. As Robert Frost has well said:
It is from that in the water we were from
Long, long before we were from any creature
It flows between us, over us, and with us.
And it is time, strength, tone, light, life, and love. (Robert Frost West Running Brook 409). Dirt, an ugly-looking western town inhabited by the untamed Haggard people, is tormented by the evil-minded villains, who are bent upon destroying it as the town is desperately short on water. The other characters, which are many in number as they often are in such movies, are also slightly bizarre western typical characters. One noteworthy of these characters, for example, is Rattlesnake Jak, an evil man who is the gamester who, with the help of other gangsters, holds the town in the grip of terror. The story's basic plot is not different from the typical western movies in which good and evil confront each other, ultimately making good triumph over evil. It can prevail and succeed but not permanently. After the accidental killing of the eagle that had been devouring the citizens of the town, Dirt, the Rango, the triumphed killer of the eagle, is warmly praised and offer to wear the sheriff's badge and restore law and order in the town of Dirt. The mayor's Ned Beatty, feels overjoyed at this new state of affairs and feels confident and hopeful that Rango can bring peace and order to the town. The situation reminds us of the classical Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex. Oedipus, the unfortunate child of Laius and Jocasta, comes to a place where three roads meet and accidentally kill the king, Laius, whom he does not know to be his father. As in Rango in Oedipus Rex too, the city Thebes is being devoured by a monster, sphinx, who poses a riddle to citizens, and if they do not find the riddle's answer, she is dining upon the citizens of Thebes. The situation is strikingly similar as in the Rango, the town of Dirt is in the clutches of an eagle which engulfs the creatures mercilessly. In both cases, the city has to restore its peace and law, threatened by evil forces: Sphinx and eagle. The responsibility of restoring the peace and law to the death-ridden towns is upon the good characters: Oedipus and Rango, who, though, kill the scourge accidentally, are offered the crown and the opportunity to rule over the city and turn it into a haven of peace. Rango is a great lover of the westerns. The movie follows a basic pattern of binaries in which one binary is privileged over the other. Rango has been made to love western thought, western culture, western civilization, western philosophy and the western conceptualization of the reality around. He is the only way to restore peace and law to the Dir and resolve the issue of water that is likely to get the factions involved in a war that would result in a massacre. Rango's love for westerns is not accidental: this is a well-thought-out structure of the movie, which has its parallel in many western classics. Molded in animated form, the movie follows the basic structure of the western idea of confutation between good and evil. In contrast, the latter is associated with non-western forces, and the latter is inevitably part of the western self. In typically western heroic essentialized form, Rango reaches a far off country (town), where the people need his help for the actualization of true freedom. He faces a villain who has deeply disturbed the life of the country's people in need of rescue and ultimately faces a test of his heroism. He needs to prove his heroism to assert the importance and greatness of western ideas; in Dirt, Rango has to deal with the snakes and vultures. Above all, there is a water crisis. The inclusion of the water crisis in the story particularly drives our attention to the increasing scarcity of water in the world and resultant wars that might break out. The situation assumed global importance because this is not only one country where the water crisis is becoming harmful to the people's peace and health. Rather the issue is becoming global day by day. In third world countries especially, the problem of the water crisis is very acute, and more than half of the population of these countries, living in squalled conditions, is forced to drink dirty water. Pakistan, in this context, is a prime example: more than 50% of its population is deprived of the fundamental right of drinking water, and the lack of pure drinking water is breading on the innumerable disease.
In the nineteenth century, cartoon movies were primarily made for entertainment, and that is to keep in mind the interest of the children. Then the world became technologically advanced, the need was felt to make animated movies with serious themes to attract the adult's attention as well. The invention of digital literature opened vast possibilities for computer designs and computer graphics, making the world more and more digital. With Rango’s profound theme of the scarcity of water faced by the world population, it can be termed as an animated movie appealing to both the kids and the adults.
Studies show that animation movement additionally impacts youngsters’ brain. These investigations consistently centered around the conducting part of enlivened films. Hassan and Daniyal contend that animation films effectively affect a kid's "way of life" (p.10). They further elaborate that kids like dresses and different frill, which conveys pictures, logos, seals, and photos of their beloved animation characters. Moreover, kids will, in general, emulate their beloved animation characters in their private lives. (Hassan and Daniyal, 2013 p.10)
Gökçearslan is of the view that the portrayal of male and female characters in kid's shows causes sex segregation in kids. The prevalence of male characters as far as portrayals over female characters makes kids romanticized.
Essentially, Kirsh accepts that openness to brutal animation and motion pictures can effectively affect grown-up characters. He, likewise, contends that kids’ shows are a significant justification behind developing rough and forceful conduct in youth. As per Kirsh, hostility and viciousness in animation films "can possibly disinhibit disconnected demonstrations of animosity in watchers, like pushing and hitting" (Kirsh, 2006 p. 552). He, likewise, distinguishes checked contrasts between the gathering of comic and non-comic savagery on character. Kirsh finishes up his contention by expressing that comic savagery in animation motion pictures neglects to show a noticeable and forceful mentality contrasted with non-comic viciousness, which produces outrageous and forceful conduct in youth. (Kirsh, 2006 p.555)
Despite the fact that, film portrays anecdotal characters, occasion and areas, and changes them into invented reality. This changed truth is human-centric, however even this changed invented reality may manage "bigger ecological issues, making it ecocentric" (Alex 2014 p.6) in its healthiness. Subsequently, with the developing importance of visual media to our genuine world, the commitments of film have become hard to disregard. Throughout the long term, film has become something beyond a wellspring of satiation for our libidinal drives. With its seriousness and force, it has acquired a good spot in scholastic talk. Its worldwide acknowledgment has made numerous pundits hopeful about its possibilities. Like other artistic endeavors, Ecocinema analysis is in its undeveloped stages. (Alex 2014 p.3-7)
Rango offers an investigation of multidimensional eco-basic issues. These issues range from personality to self-acknowledgment and from hydro-governmental issues and hydro-authority to eco-women's liberation.
Aims and Objectives
This study is the genre of animated movies that have usefully raised the world consciousness regarding the most important development in environmental studies.
Since our globe has been facing serious issues regarding the dwindling water resource, a different form of pollution and heedless exploitation of natural sources by man, this study highlights the significance of preserving the water resources to save the world from hazards.
From an eco-feminist critical perspective, this study evaluates the animated movie Rango and attempts to analyze its thematic, stylistic and cinematographic characteristics.
i. How can the genre of animated movies be exploited to portray the themes of environmental ethics?
ii. How does Rango present the politics and war on the water in eco-critical feminist mode?
iii. How far do animated movies, especially Rango, succeed in depicting critical eco issues?
Significance of the Study
Animated movie is a recent addition to the entertainment cum informative media technology. Whereas early versions of animated movies centered upon the entertainment aspects only, and that too mainly for the children. Recently, these movies have come to be used for a variety of purposes, and certain very serious issues have been dealt with this prospective genre. The movie Rango, in this regard, offers an excellent example of how that animated movie can be potentially used to ground the themes of universal importance like the issues of eco degradation, environmental ethics, and eco-critical consciousness-raising among residents of the world. The study is significant in any respect, particularly because it analyzes the text and cinematographic presentation of the environmental and especially water-related issues of global significance.
This qualitative research is carried out within the framework of literary and semiotic, fiction and history of the genre, animated movies. It is premised upon an explanatory and interpretative analysis of the chosen movie. It is an interpretation of the many-sided structural and semiotic arguments presented in the movie, Rango. The structural and semiotic discussion of the movie is supported by textual evidence. As the research, by its very qualitative nature, requires intensive study of the text to figure out and collect relevant evidence to support our argument, we have deeply and analytically studied as well as watched the text of the movie. After many close readings and intensive study of the text, the relevant textual evidence will be marked and extracted. After the extraction of the data, it will be meticulously sorted out and carefully categorized. Finally, linguistic, structural and semiotic theories will be applied to analyze the data to address research questions. Finally, detailed conclusions will be drawn from the critical discussions.
The wild animated movie 'Rango' by Gore Verbinski is an accurate congregation of classic western themes. The fresh genre ecosystem, which has recently gained momentum among the movie makers and has emerged as one of the popular genres in both movies and texts, is fully desert animals. Hydro-politics gains the centre of the movie, and everything rest moves around this primary theme. The word politics pundits have long been highlighting the likelihood of global war on water issues. Its practical manifestation can be seen in the recent water issues in different countries, like Indo-Pak water territory, which is becoming the cause of recent military clashes between the two countries in the movie. The waterless desert range is also the centre of attention and the western outfits are very much detailed. The settings used in the movie help in deepening the notes of suggestive dreamlike. A sly combination of subtexts and characters renders Rango over and above one of the best-animated movies.
Although western themes and topics of broader interest must be dominated by perimeters and borders, the director of the movie, Verbinski, fully attempts, in postmodern deconstructive style, to deconstruct the concept in the opening sequence of the movie through physical entrances by introducing a thespian and titular lizard 'Rango'. They were dominated by the idea of presenting the crucial issues faced by the modern world. The director foregrounds animals to communicate his concern over the issues of water. In this regard, Rango, the central hero of the movie, acts out his passion for playing at the back seat of the car owned by his master. In this scene, the director used befitting animal patterns like the headless doll, which acts as Rango's heroine, a wind-up fish toy and a palm tree in the theatrical cage. The animal characters are used mostly in symbolic terms, though not in the trite allegorical fashion because the motif of the movie, rather than nearly entertaining the audience, seems to be more of bringing the people to face the most crucial contemporary issue, the water crisis which, as the director envisions, will need to the irrevocable catastrophe of the world. Symbolism is used to present different ounces of the central idea, for example, the heroine of the Rango, the fish, is yellow and portrays the colour of the desert's sand. Deprived of the company of the fellow-creatures without a home, he must have felt marooned and despondent. The intimacy of the yellow fish helps him live in a positive way because the yellow fish is the only friend he has in the cage . Whereas the contemporary significance of the Rango can be overlooked as one is strongly reminded of the world around while meditating over the movie, different motifs clearly show the fantasy world of Rango where deep-rooted layers of trickery exist.
Rango has other box office which hits to remind us when we watch the movie or read its texts. Intersexuality is one thing that we cannot keep at bay when reading or watching something with a critical state of mind. Similarly, Rango is also one of the theme-park rides kind of animated movies just like "Megamind" and "Despicable Me", which have posed as big-ticket corporate amusements to the core and thrilling till they are at the box office and once gone they are forgotten. It remains to be discussed that intersexuality or parallelism does not mean that any text, for example of Rango, can only be understood or interpreted in terms of the other texts or concepts it shadows, rather the concept means that understanding of one's specific experience depends upon all the previous experiences one has had because one new experience is interpreted by the past accumulated experiences and, simultaneously, alters the consciousness of the person. So, Rango in terms of thematic and stylistic concerns is a far cry from the other movies of its genre. It just does not bring a lot of fun and entertainment for the movie-goers. Still, it also touches upon the most serious of the concerns of the present day: water which is supposed by the political pundits and thinks tanks of the present day to be the cause of the world-be crisis of the world. From direction to production, the movie has set new heights and paved the way for the serious turn to animated movies. When first conceived the idea, the director, George Verbinsky, wanted it to be a movie steeped in western traditions, an epitome of western classics in all respects. He was particularly interested in giving lifelike air to the characters as they should be looking like giving desert smell, making the moviegoers feel they are in the presence of the desert ethos, as that was the typically western phenomenon to bring in realism for the sake of presenting the things the way they were. Water crisis being at the heart of the movie remains breathlessly present in the movie; however, apart from this theme, the director wanted to make sure that when the characters breathe, they should have the feelings of breathing in the smell of dirt and dust, typical of the desert area where water scarcity is an overwhelming issue that threatens the lives of the inhabitants. The creation of such lifelike an animated version of the desert and the life on it was, however, not all that an easy task, and the director, as well as the animator all, had to lay heads together to make it a success. Painstaking moments ultimately created this wonderful animated phenomenon.
The movie seems to have drawn inspiration from traditional western movies regarding wildness. It is all out to deconstruct the previously fact about the wildness, water and animals. The writer and director are found keen on the issue of thinking profoundly about how the world's dwindling water resources can be a reserve, and unending erosion of the land can be saved from possible desertion. Having this thinking in mind, the director gives ostensible wild / water orientation to the movie's overall effect so that the central theme is unequivocally presented. After one has seen the movie, there remains little doubt that the director has created the best western environment in terms of depicting desert, rocks, and other places that strongly give the impression of being westernized. It was unusual in many respects to give a lizard western mind since the paraphernalia of production and direction and writing necessitated that everything should look saturated in western look.
Given that the animated movie industry has spread throughout the world and movies made anywhere in the world and especially in the Euro American industry gain excess to the world market. The moviemakers had in mind to capitalize the commercial as well as the intellectual side of the business. The movie's whole plot moves in the fictional Mojave Desert town of Dirt, which looks like a huge place in need of being saved and occupied by some western Messiah. Not only Rango alone but all the other characters have been conceived and presented in western representational that glosses over the flaws in the western tradition and condition while being extremely critical of the "others" traditions and cultures.
Analysis of the Movie ‘Rango’
Cartoons and animated movies have been a comparatively recent addition to the movie business. Still, soon after an appearance on the mini and the big screen, these movies and programs have achieved immediate success and carved a secure niche in the hearts of the onlookers. The symbolic mode of these animated movies; the special effects they create through the colour schemes and animated characters are extraordinary and unmatched in the past. Perhaps more than anything else, the appeal of these movies for the children has surpassed all other aspects and has led to the proliferation of these movies on a larger scale. Inspired by the mega-success of animated movies among children and adults, the movie-makers embarked upon incorporating into animated movies serious thoughts and issues dealing with the problems of global importance. It again proved to be a mega success, and the movies gained instant triumph among the movie-watching audience. Rango is one such effort in which a serious theme concerning the likely war over water has been discussed and explored from the viewpoint of the future of humanity. The movie is a wonderful animated comedy, unique of its kind, entertaining and informative that makes the audience not only feel excited about the art of movie-making but also make them serious over the issue of water that will become the cause of global wars in the future. As the character bounds and prance on the screen, especially in the three-D version, they seem to get out of the screen and enter the real world of man and woman. A splendid comedy, starling and attractive, slyly satirically, it sits deep in the eyes and minds of the movie-goers, never letting them relax. The title character, Rango, an impressive-looking lizard, has been brought to animation by the voice of Johnny Depp. The way the character has been animated and brought to life is just marvellous: it looks strikingly ordinary lizard, all green with eye-catching colours, having scales and Popeye's. What is the most amazing thing about this lizard is the responsibility to bring civilization to dirt, a responsibility that it will fulfil to continue the obsession of the European mind, that is, civilizing the dirty people, in the desert Dirt, is instrumental in highlighting the basic theme of the plot: that is the scarcity of water being faced by an inhabitant of the place, in addition to the ravages they had to suffer from time to time from the villains. Though dirt is a desert with life extremely hard on it and can better be called all dust, it proves a fertile ground for Rango to meet the enemies to defeat to establish his control over the place and perpetuate hegemony.
Rango is not just a kids’ movie meant to entertain the audience alone. It has been written or directed merely to gain commercial success; it is rather a real movie that comments on the global political scenario moving around the water politics. The town of Dirt is all populated by rabbits, gofers, dry boned mice and every kind of critters. It is ruled over by the talkative turtle, the dialogue spoken by Ned Beatty, and perpetually frightened by the predators who come and dine on the lives of the poor creatures of the desert. Among the most terrible varmints Bad Bill, a monster creature always on the look for hunting and devouring, Rattlesnake Jake, who is ultimately killed by Rango. Although the event of the killing of Rattlesnake happens accidentally, it proves a great blessing for the inhabitant of the dirt and, consequently, the hopes of peace and law on the desert come alive. The mayor proposes Rango to wear the proper badge of victory and become their saviour because he alone is not the ray of hope for the desert. Verbinski, the director of the movie Rango, very ambitious and already a successful director, had entered into computer animation with this movie which he made with all the enthusiasm and passion of the one who knows the scope and limitation of his genius.
The uncanny appearance of the jack and chameleon is a beauty of the movie as a good deal of the movie's appeal depends upon the heightened effect created through uncanny appearances. The chameleon reached here when he had accidentally hit a bump in the road as he was flying in search of true identity. If, for the time being, one ignores the existence of desert, the chameleon is a hero, though not a conservative one, nor in the typical sense. Chameleons are known for changing their colours and adapting to the new conditions quickly. Thus, this chameleon also learns very quickly in the western fashion and comes to call himself Rango.
Verbinski's first mega short, Rango, superb in use digital effects, dramatizes the conflict between the forces of good and evil in the form of lizard and the gangster, and also pinpoints the sign of water in the animal life, though, by implication, the significance is meant to be attached with the life of the humans and the likely war between human communities in the effort of securing water resources. The movie is metrical of cinematography, and the great cinematographer Roger Deakins created special visual and digital effects to render the plot of this movie a thing to watch. Deakins already used hand and computer graphics a few years back on Wall –E. Still, it is also true that since that time, many developers have been in computer graphics and that all came to be effectively utilized by him in Rango. Since the movie was planned to be choreographed in the desert where dust and dirt were likely to impede the flow of light, special effects had to be created so that the light may be shown flooding and, it is worth noting, that the light effects in Rango are, without any shred of doubt, breathtaking.
The light, now dusty, now shimmery, now flooding makes gives the movie one of its most fascinating and innovative dimensions. Rango, initially a pet chameleon, is seen throughout the movie talking to toys. Then we find him suddenly marooned in the middle of the Dirt desert where he would perform feats of bravery and save its inhabitants from the wrath of gangsters. Having found himself stranded on the lonesome place, he will encounter, and eventually succeed in escaping from the clutches of the hawk. He finds himself coming into contact with a female chameleon Beans, and then, in the typically Western movie and literature style, he walks alone as a stranger into the nearby town. The town, as if it were some third world country to be conquered and civilized by some western people, is all smeared with dirt, and The same name calls it. Its creatures, some very uncanny and haggard-looking, are in extreme danger of dying for want of water because their water reservoir is soon going to finish. Tortoise Johan, the good-hearted mayor of the town, seeks to appoint Rango, the brave stranger, as the town's new sheriff. Rango accepts the role with joy.
In the light of what has gone on in the preceding chapter, which dwelt upon the confliction of eco-critical field and the animated movies. In this chapter, we intend to draw well thought out conclusions and give suggestions as to how the study of the extensive field of the ecocriticism can be extended to numerous disciplines and applied to different discourses to draw the intentions of the people towards the significance of looking at things from eco driven perspectives. The present study of the movie, Rango, with particular focus upon hydro politics and hydro hegemony, does confirm the importance of the eco-critical perspectives and the ways of dealing with the dwindling resources of water, energy and other natural resources. The study concludes that in the contemporary technological advance area in which other than super-power of the world, like America, Russia and China, the other less powerful yet potentially threatening countries of the world that possess weapons of mass destruction can prove highly dangerous for the world peace and, while the water resources are assuming prime importance in developing the energy resources of different countries. The next war is likely to be fought over securing water resources. Ecocriticism, a hybrid field that combines literary and ecological approaches and insights, inculcates in the masses the critical thought of the need to review the man-centred gaze at the world and its resources, believing that since man is crown of creation and has the superior intellect, therefore deserves the privilege of using all the resources of the world keeping in view his sole benefits while becoming ruthless, mindlessly exploiting the resources of the world. Given the growing importance of taking measures to ensure water preservation and reviewing policies on using the existing natural and environmental recourses, different fields of study have taken up the ecological diminishing of human life very seriously. They have initiated significant programs of promoting environmental consciousness. Animated movie, being one of the very influential filed of moulding public opinions, is also showing and stressing the importance of hydro politics and also exposing how hydro hegemony is likely to disturb not only the ecological balance of the planet but will also create manifold problems for the deprived and marginalized people. Rango, in this connection, is a milestone as it highlights the hydro politics and hydro hegemony that is the most crucial challenge being faced by the already imbalanced world in which the powerful countries suppress the weaker ones by establishing their control in different ways. The hydro politics and hydro hegemony presented in Rango have broader implications for the whole world, especially for Pakistan. Whenever the Indo Pak relations are disturbed, India starts hydro politics.
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