Ritual

Ritual ★★★★½

I am drawn to the idea of escapism and I’m unsure why. Well, maybe I know why, everything I do, everything everyone does, feels like an existential sedative. Watching TV, playing video games, reading, small talk, sports, in some way even sleeping is an involuntary act of escape. However this train of thought leaves me with two essential questions: what is our reality and what are we escaping? 

In Ritual, it seems Anno has similar questions with more conclusive answers. Escape is ritualistic, it is engraved into our routine, helplessly tangled into the monotony of our lives, permanently programmed into the minutia of the endless days stacked on top, one after another. When faced with the true ephemerality of happiness, and the looming sorrow that is often patiently awaiting us in our lives, whether it is slowly building over time, or sinisterly waiting around the corner, we crumble. Yet, Anno, a prolific filmmaker and anime creator, admits that this escape is artificial, simply a postponement of the inevitable. Escapism is the denial of tomorrow, the infatuation of the present, and suppression of the past, it’s the rejection of consequence and celebration of brief bliss.

Ritual is very much a film about this realization, that one day, we must face these truths, embrace uncertainty, and confront hardships. Yet even this feels like an oversimplification, or maybe I’ve just projected myself onto the film. Either way, Ritual serves as a cautionary warning, an ambivalently optimistic tale of human connection outlasting human fragility, and most simply: a necessary rejection of escape. 

LOW 9

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