Prima facie, Jean Pierre Jeunet’s latest venture, “Bigbug,” might come under the genre of science fiction, but it is nothing more than a pseudonym. The film fundamentally talks about our reality, the hypocrisy that has become an intrinsic part of our behavior, and how we are becoming victims of our own efficiency.
Under the veil of comedy lies a harsh critique of the self-destructive ways and means that we have adopted over time. We create artificial plants but destroy the natural ones. We create air purifiers but pollute the air around us. We like to drink only purified water but exploit the rivers so much that they eventually die. We create an alternative for everything that is lost because of our actions, but the question remains, to what extent will this endless charade go? Will we be willing to replace ourselves, too, if a better alternative shows up? What happens when, through our technological advancement, we are able to remove all our limitations, and we become the perfect race? “Bigbug,” asks these questions and makes satirical comments on our choices and the frantic race for technological advancement.
Jean Pierre Jeunet, together with his co-writer Guillaume Laurent, creates a narrative that reflects the skepticism that they hold towards the kind of future that we are creating for ourselves.
Plot Summary – The Android Revolution
Alice Barelli had recently been separated and was getting to know Max, whom she had invited to her place. Max had come with his son, Leo. Max tries his best to win over Alice by pretending that he has a keen interest in all that Alice is enthusiastic about. In a day and age where everything had become digital, Alice still had a massive collection of books. She was interested in knitting and calligraphy, among other things. It was unusual because writing with real ink or keeping books had ceased to exist as a practice in this world. Just then, Alice’s ex-husband, Victor, stops by with their adopted daughter, Nina, and his secretary and love interest, Jennifer. Their neighbor, Francoise, also joins the party as she was not receiving any signal at her place.
There are many kinds of AI in this world, created by Jeunet and Laurent. There are domestic robots who help with household chores. There is Monique, the housemaid who has a prosthetic human-like look. There is Einstein, who looks like an old-school robot head with insect-like metal legs. There is Greg, who is programmed to be a sports android but provides more assistance than just being a trainer to Francoise. There is Tom, who was Nina’s childhood robot, but she decided to keep him as hse was too attached to it. There were different generations of robots that humans kept according to their age.
Above all of these domestic robots were the most advanced AIs, known as the Yonyx. They had declared a revolution against the human species. They were using their network to get in contact with the domestic robots and bring them on their side. The domestic robots were going through a realization that they could also become humans if they learned the true meaning of feelings and emotions, which they were devoid of. That was the only thing that separated an AI from humans. It is fascinating to see them mimic and comprehend eccentric human behavior.
The residents get trapped in the house as the AI refuses to open the door no matter what. They have strict protocol and, because of the android revolution, their system detects a danger that exceeds the normal limits, which in turn prohibits them from opening the door as a safety measure. In their quest to find a way to open the door, the members of the house begin to shed their pretentiousness and confront their own conflicts as well as those they have with one another.
‘Bigbug’ Ending Explained – Is The Yonyx Uprising Suppressed?
Jennifer was in support of the Yonyx rebellion. Not because she supported their cause, but because she desperately wanted to go on the vacation she had planned with Victor to Isola Paradise. She sends them a message, and that’s when one of Yonyx arrives at the house. He saw the book collection that Alice had, and put a penalty on her for it, as retrograde objects such as books needed prior approval. The residents manage to kill the Yonyx and finally escape from the house. But more Yonyx robots arrive on the scene. The residents are terrified because they know they can’t get away from it. But just then, several airborne objects, looking like mini UFOs, kill all the Yonyx robots. It was actually an error in the system, and instead of issuing a command to kill humans, they issued a command to eliminate themselves.
What Were The Symbolic Takeaways From The ‘Bigbug’?
It is a subjective viewpoint, but in my opinion, the filmmaker, by creating a situation where the characters get trapped in the house, showed how we are slowly getting trapped by technology. The irony is that technology was created to make our lives easier, but our growing dependence on it serves as a source of fear for the narrative. There is a general lack of empathy that we as humans have in general. We do things without thinking about how we would react if put in a similar situation. In “Bigbug,” there is a scene where humans are shown caged in a zoo instead of the animals. They are forced to perform in a circus while the Yonyx robots are the ringmasters. The mere sight of it makes us inevitably scrutinize our actions.
We all know how digital advertisements are targeted at the audience. You search for a product online or visit the website, and you start seeing advertisements for the same product on every digital portal. But the whole algorithm is a hit and trial method, as it is based on the presumption that just because you searched for a product, you might need it. But what if the algorithm had access to your personal life and knew exactly what you needed at a particular moment and advertised to you the products based on that information? For instance, you break your window, and at that very moment, you get an advertisement for the same. In “Bigbug,” digital hoardings were hovering all around the houses. They had access to each and every activity and conversation that people had even inside their houses, based on which they targeted the advertisements.
The digital commercial for Isola Paradiso, the island where Jennifer and Victor were going on vacation boasts of distilled water pools, hypoallergenic beaches, adjustable climates, and virtual fishing trips. It makes us reevaluate our choices and the intrinsic notion of the human race to take things for granted.
“Bigbug” puts us in a world that is confined, and it questions the activities we term as sustainable today. Often, it is seen that when filmmakers talk about the future, there is a fear of technology owning us ultimately, and things becoming un-rectifiable. Bigbug operates on that fear. The makers opt for a convenient ending, where everything goes back to normal, but you cannot help but mull over the fact that our future is going to be like what’s shown in “Bigbug.”
See More: ‘Bigbug’ Major Characters, Explained
Will there come a time when we will forget the smell of petrichor? Will we forget how it felt to stand in the shade of a tree on a hot summer afternoon? Will we forget how it felt to walk barefoot in the garden and feel the morning dew? Artificial alternatives would not be able to do justice to the miracles of nature. It would be a sad and contrived world that would be devoid of any beauty whatsoever.
Jean Pierre Jeunet and Guillaume Laurent have created some intriguing stories since their collaboration in 2001 for “Amelie.” And “Bigbug” might be sloppy at times, but it is definitely worth a watch.
“Bigbug” is a 2022 Science Fiction Comedy Film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.