Let me just start off by saying that the responses and discussions spurred by the film Mr. Nobody on this blog are truly inspiring and has made me realize the quality of readers of this blog. In particular one recent poster has offered what I think to be a substantial mini-essay that pairs well with the original Mr. Nobody : The Paradox of Choice, Chaos Theory And Hidden Knowledge. Here is what a recent commenter MYB had to say about the film Mr.Nobody:
I read most of the reviews and believe that there are some very good points being made. I don’t believe this theory has been presented yet, and after watching the movie a number of times I have concluded on a rationale and idea behind the film.
It is my belief that over the course of the movie the viewer is in fact seeing a recounting of his many lives as we watch his most recent life in which he is 117 years old and reminiscing on his past experiences. I believe there is a substantial amount of evidence in the film that points torwards this conclusion. Disclaimer: this is going to be quite long but I think it clears up a lot of the film.
To preface, I did see a few comments stating that he has been uniquely experiencing the reversal and progression of time over and over thus leading to the many time lines. I agree with most of this concept. Let’s look at the evidence to support this:
– we see throughout the movie short documentary type segments where Nemo in one of his lives presents to us the idea of time, and a number of other complex scientific arguments about humanity in general as his role nearly is characterized as some sort of professor or leader in the scientific community. These short scenes introducing such concepts act as subtle clues as to the theory behind how all of these realities may in fact have happened. It is almost as if the character himself, as he presents this documentary style information, subconciously or unknowingly is expressing the reasoning for having many different life timelines. This theory is then confirmed as we see Nemo referencing the reversal of time as told to him by Anna on Mars. (He does this by 1. One of his other timelines watches his near current timeline of his older self talking about that specific date in a strange older house 2. As he looks at the clock in present time in the future) and his understanding of that event confirms his having lived or perceiving to have lived multiple timelines.
Moreover, maybe the largest clue for this theory is his constant waking up from his other lives and having a slight uneasiness in his current life as he vaguely remembers parts of his other lives. This is shown in his constant saying his other lovers names when waking up with his current wife in whichever timeline. Furthermore, in a timeline with his Wife Joan by the pool he wrote a letter describing that he understands every move in life and every move to come and it has bored him. One user mentioned that this is indicative of a sort of deja vu. But also, this idea of thinking his future is written or he knows his every move further enhances the idea that he has lived multiple realities or lives. It is important to note too that in all of those lives, he is unsure or uncertain of what he is thinking or why he is thinking such vivid memories of other pasts ( as we see present in his dreams).
Further, at one point we see the near homeless looking Nemo draw a circle near the light tower where he is waiting for Anna. This indicates that his character understands somehow that in that very spot something will happen. It’s almost as if his brain is telling him that that spot is important, yet he has no understanding as to why. There is a string of religious thought that follows a similar ideal that a person’s soul is traveling through time maturing along the way, being placed into different lifestyles and people, as each person lives there life and dies, in order to further their spiritual journey. (I will link the book name that talks about this religious idea at the bottom). This concept is very similar in that Nemo continually lives lifetimes over and over learning slowly along the way.
Nemo later on in the movie is seen seeing visions of his other self as he is in the plad world where everyone has red cars, he sees the near homeless Nemo who he chased through a building to an alternate reality thereby opening his mind to the concept of not being real or being a figment of imagination or life.
This realization culminates when Anna eventually steps into the circle in one timeline, he follows his other self in another timeline, and his waking up in the bath tub in another timeline (and subsequently being shot dead presumably). At these points, the viewer can assume that Nemo is beginning to understand more about his previous lives and begins to link them to a central theory. This theory is then expanded on by the present day 117 year old Nemo in the future who has made the large realization that he does (which I will get to in a moment). The movie then ends up in the reminiscing perspective of present day old-Nemo as he thinks on his past.
Therefore, the viewer is told to assume that Nemo has in fact lived multiple lives. ln each of the lives he makes different decisions as we see in the film, and with the concept of the reversal and progression of time over and over, he begins to develop more and more while still having memories of each of these other timelines that he has lived. Eventually, comes to understand his epiphany or at least share it with the viewers in his interview with the young journalist.
This epiphany is essentially the meaning behind the movie and the message to be conveyed.
Nemo shares the big concept that the journalist and himself may in fact not be real but an imagination of a child. Now in my opinion this is more symbolic than anything else but I have two theories.
- This representation of reality through a child’s perspective is used in order to state that whatever path, regardless of the outcome, the viewer is making the correct decision. This concept can be expanded upon by Nemo’s fascination with fate and chance. (This is a doozy but break it down) The concept that making a decision and not making a decision are in fact both great decisions that are always the right decision leads the viewer to believe that life is uncertainty at its very core, and to claim one ever made a wrong decision would be ridiculous. Nemo shows, all decisions have their good and bad attached and near similar outcomes as far as human development goes.
- Or in the much more literal sense, we see that all of the scenarios that played out in the film are in fact the inner workings of a boys mind who is stuck making the decision to be with his mom or his dad. These realities are all just play throughs that happen in the boys head as he is thinking about his choices. This is very similar to if you were weighing your outcomes of your picking one school or another or a brand of milk at the grocery store and then playing the outcome in your head until death, running that back to the beginning and picking the other route to see what that outcome was (we’ve all done this hypothetical what if). This theory has some grounds since the movie does use imagery with the leaf, the droplet of rain, and the idea of slippery slope reasoning to convey the butterfly effect, which is essentially what every single one of Nemo’s lifelines is based off of. He makes one small change and watches the change grow into a completely different future. So essentially, he is allowing his childhood mind to create many lifelines that aren’t actually happening but are possible realities given he chooses to go with his mom or dad as determined by the boy.
Both of these scenarios play on the concept of decisions though which is the primary reason for the movie it seems as I explained somewhat in Nemo’s epiphany 1.
The fact that he states at the end of the film Anna’s name and ultimately truly seems happy in the only relationship with Anna throughout the movie seems to me that if he did live any of those lives, it was the one in which he was with Anna or at least dreamed of Anna and lived the reality of a man in a struggling relationship. At any rate, the life with Anna is the one he wanted to live, or possibly live again as another opportunity in the future (or reverse to the past).
Readers feel free to comment on this particular perspective. Thanks to MYB for taking the time to explain a well thought out opinion that I believed should be its own post.