For some of you––probably gamers of the recent era––this synopsis may remind you of the 2011 Supergiant Games release, Bastion. A post-apocalyptic action-adventure game, the player controls a character simply known as “The Kid,” a youthful adventurer who lives in a world of suspended ruin, literally. Pieces of the world that used to be float in space, seemingly unconnected like leaves in a pond. What’s interesting about the game is two-fold: first, the game is narrated as you play by another character in the game. The narration is kind of dynamic, responding to how the player controls The Kid as well as revealing story. Second, but related, is that the world only exists as your character exists; where he stands is all that is real. For example, at the outset, The Kid wakes up in his bed in a room, which is just a bed on a rock with half a wall and a doorway just floating in the middle of nothingness. The player can see other floating islands in the background, all at different depths, in different sizes. The player moves the control stick which causes The Kid to get out of bed and as you guide him up and out through the door the ground literally rises up underneath his steps in disparate pieces, creating a path only as you move forward on it. It’s an unsettling feeling at first, but you quickly get used to it, especially when creepy creatures are trying to do you in. The crux of the story is that, despite the utter destruction of the world, The Kid is trying to collect fragments of the world to run a machine called The Bastion (a combination of terraformer, time machine, small town, and space ship) which––when fully powered––has the ability to undo the effects of the Calamity––the event that made the world what it is.
|The Kid wakes up amid floating ruin. Source: Supergiant Games.|
Not for lack of trying, Atreyu ultimately fails at the latter part of the to-do list and the fantasy world is left in literal fragments, highlighted by the image of the princess’ castle floating on a lonely bit of land in the vacuum of space, surrounded by other bits of the once beautiful world floating along side it. Even amid such destruction, the princess assures Atreyu––and the reader of the book––and the viewers of the film––that there was still hope to reverse the effects of The Nothing––in this case, it was an otherworldly entity called Bastian, which happened to be the name of the kid reading the book, a name I’m assuming it’s short for “Sebastian.” Instead of a floating city––a veritable planet all its own––the child named Bastian is imbued with the willpower to affect Fantasia, the fantasy world in the book he’s reading. What’s interesting about this is that even though, to us viewers, Bastian is as fictional as Atreyu and the princess, but he represents reality and the fact that the fictional characters of the book he’s reading can’t repair their world––and that only a person in the “real world” can––speaks to the very nature of fiction and narrative itself: the readers are as important to the creation of a story as the writer is.
|Fantasia becomes a world of floating ruin.|
|This is my suspicion.|