Home > Patton Notes > A note on the ‘Minute to Win It’ & “Plastic Bag”

A note on the ‘Minute to Win It’ & “Plastic Bag”

For almost two months I have been working for NBC on the show Minute To Win It. We shot several episodes at the end of last month and the highly anticipated (?) premiere was this past Tuesday.  An hour long ‘life changing’ show where tear-jerking moments waxing sentimental are interrupted by brief sixty-second stints of home-grown challenges.  The goal for the contestants? Complete each sixty-second challenge to win 3 Million dollars (upped from the usual one-million for the special holiday episodes).  And as I was watching a contestant gyrate and jump on the glass stage my eyes drifted down to my laptop where I was loading a short film that I saw earlier this year and decided to revisit.

Werner Herzog voices the internal thoughts of the Plastic Bag in Ramin Bahrani’s short film Plastic Bag. It gives us insight into the philosophical thoughts of a piece of trash, or what we accept as trash until we project human emotion on it, and suddenly we care for an inanimate object.  I haven’t cared for a household object like this since Spike Jonze’s lamp commercial for Ikea.

The bag is given an amazingly complex personality, one that holds all the characteristics of an innocent child that must learn the world on his own.  In innocence we often find love, blind unyielding love like the bag has for his Maker. He is happy to be put to use, to have purpose in her life. The happiest moment is when he is filled with ice (a shocking experience) and then gets to rest on the warm injured ankle of his Maker.

He clearly cannot understand rejection.  Expelled with the rubbish he finds himself fighting monstrous Earth-movers in a landfill.  Thus begins his journey.  He must find Her again.  A comparison to Spielberg’s A.I: Artificial Intelligence can be drawn from the beginning, but now it is too obvious to ignore.  Given the idea that love lives with a being until death, and given that neither the robot nor the bag can die, we get an endless search to recapture that amorous feeling.  I hear Guy Fieri exclaim, “You’ve got a minute to win it, good luck.” I look up.

Two sisters spin wildly with ribbon around their waists on a game titled “Christmas Ball Conveyor.” I think this was for 10,000 dollars.   And the bag finds plastic bag prophets that tell him of a place called the Pacific Vortex, where billions of bags in a mass the size of Texas swirl in the ocean.  He ventures now to find the companionship out in the vast waste forming in the sea.

Plastic Bag raises questions philosophical, environmental and theological.  Do we all sympathize with this plastic bag because we all have that yearning for love, is it that “God Hole” that may exist in everyone? Perhaps we all just hope to find purpose and meaning to our existence and that one desire keeps us moving until we either die or accept that meaning is an artificial construct.

The short film is beautifully shot by Michael Simmonds. Herzog’s narration sounds lyrical, it possesses a true curiosity and vulnerability that is necessary to portray a character of this innocence. It’s the exact opposite of how I imagine the legendary Herzog – the sort of director that would pull a gun on his actor, eat a shoe to satisfy a bet.   The direction by Bahrani accomplishes in 18 minutes what master story teller Spielberg couldn’t accomplish with his 2 and half hour mess, A.I.

It’s the sort of film that inspires other filmmakers, full of an intelligent creativity that can find an emotional story in a common grocery bag.  And one of the sisters balances martini glasses on Christmas ornaments – I think for $250,000 – but the martini glasses start to wobble and… to be continued. Whoa. Cliffhanger.

Categories: Patton Notes Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.