5.04.2010

Going Green: Sustainability and Ecology in Troll 2

“Are you crazy, boy?” the Drugstore Owner asks, “We're vegetarians here in Nilbog.” The rhetorical question posed by the Nilbog resident summarizes the subtle irony of Troll 2’s green message. Presenting the omnivorous (if carnivorous is too strong) Waits family as the protagonists and juxtaposing them against the seemingly “crazy” vegetarians of Nilbog, director Claudio Fragasso forces us to pose the aforementioned quote upon ourselves—“Are we crazy?” In a land where mechanized methods of meat production and continual environmental degradation dominate human behavior, it is homosapiens (not goblins) that live in decadent madness as they feast upon the earth’s resources. Fragasso’s foil of human versus goblin illustrates the irony of human interference in natural ecosystems. Troll 2’s critical messages for a world on the brink of eco-disaster have only become more urgently relevant since its 1990 release.

The myth of human dominance is subverted by the presence of goblin creatures in Fragasso’s film. The homosapien-oriented assertions that the earth’s resources are subservient to human life and that indeed, the human is that from which all green life came are challenged by Nilbog. In this old-fashioned land, Goblins once roamed the earth before the human creature. Surely they gamboled among lush forests, as their sustainable lifestyles supported such ecosystems. However, human destruction was imminent and it was not long before their way of life was threatened. The goblins obviously represent a metaphor for the endangered species—a creature forced to the edge of extinction; now coerced into tiny communities where assimilation and coexistence are no longer options. Just as humans encroached upon the untamed wilderness, the Wait family invades the quiet town of Nilbog, expecting their ungreen standards of consumption to be met. Can we blame the wolf for its hostility against human encroachment? Certainly not. However, this blame is thrust fully upon the goblins of Nilbog via the accusations of the Waits family, primarily Joshua. Fragasso expertly portrays this incongruity with satire, demonizing the goblins through the perspective of Joshua only to point out the absurdity of human ignorance. The exaggerated tone of Troll 2 is perhaps most prominent when Joshua places his hands upon the Creedence’s Stonehenge, urging his family to do the same because “only good” can defeat the goblins. The filmmakers’ sardonic message is expertly communicated through Joshua’s over-the-top performance. Certainly, it is not the humans that are good here because they are the encroachers after all.

As the denizens of Nilbog gather for a sermon, their spiritual leader reminds them of the ethos of the vegetarian. The sermon recalls the disgust upon consuming bloody chunks of meat, the stinking of the flesh, and the moral depravity of the carnivore. As human viewers, their behavior seems odd, but this is entirely the purpose behind such a scene. Why should it seem odd? Vegetarianism was one of the first rules of Eden. In fact, one may go as far as to suggest Nilbog as Edenic symbolism—a place of natural beauty, where human sin (not goblin sin) leads to devastation. By turning the table and forcing viewers to question their own dietary mores, Fragasso’s empathetic style is quite progressive. The human disgust for the goblin’s vegetarian diet is only matched by the goblin’s disgust for the human’s meat-centralized diet. Alas, the distinction between these diets represents the major theme of Troll 2.  

The human-goblin dichotomy allows modern watchers to easily find an eco-friendly reading of Troll 2. When comparing the meat diet to the plant diet, it is clear that the eating habits of the goblins are far more sustainable than the homosapien’s. Not only is the goblin food nutritionally superior, but it has far less impact on earthly creatures. However, because humans have invaded Nilbog, the point diverges from this theme of impact only slightly. The goblins must convert the humans into plants for their own sustenance. While this clearly has a negative effect on the human animal, it is a poignant attempt to deconstruct the mythos of the food chain hierarchy. Troll 2 displays an egalitarian cycle of life, where plant, human, and goblin may be considered equal. More complexly, the act of human conversion into flora is a metaphor for the human’s return to Eden, as they are quite literally absorbed into the fruits of their God’s earth.

Fusing religious imagery into his green sentiments, Claudio Fragasso criticizes the Christian moral majority with his “progressive” thesis on sustainability. In fact, Fragasso is so forceful with his symbolism that it is no wonder the film has been pushed aside by mainstream America as “too extreme.” Failing to understand the complexities and irony of the story’s point of view, some, on the other hand, incorrectly assert that Troll 2 is a thoughtless film made for a quick buck. Both attacks of Fragasso’s film are mistaken. Perhaps the filmmakers anticipated this response when they wrote Arnold’s famous line, “They’re eating her…and then they’re going to eat me…OH MY GOOOOOD!” The human species has already eaten “her” (the earth) and now they’re going to eat “me” (the filmmaker) for pointing out such careless destruction. We can only hope that someday Troll 2 will be recognized as the preeminent eco-friendly film it deserves to be labeled as.

10 comments:

  1. Lol your best review yet. Such intellect and wit. Thanks for that.

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  2. Wow, I have like no words worthy of the joy that post gave me! Love that movie, and your take is one that should be known by all!

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  3. What a great movie. Billy and I have watched this so many times, but haven't been brave enough to even attempt a review. Glad you like it too.

    By the way, did you notice that Laura Gemser did the costumes? Yes the same Laura Gemser that plays "Black Emmanuelle"!!

    JM

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  4. I always saw it as a vegeterians vs. meat eaters movie, I mean, the vegetarians are the villains, and the good guys win the day by using a piece of bologna sandwich! I always thougth the films message was actually against vegetarians!

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  5. B-Movie Becky, that was truly inspirational! Thank you for such a thoughtful critique of such an underrated film.

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  6. LOL. This analysis should be included on all future DVD editions of Troll 2 from now to eternity.

    "You can't piss on vegetarians! I won't allow it!"

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  7. Two words Becky: Brilliant! Coincidentally, I just made a TROLL 2 comparison to ATTACK OF THE VEGAN ZOMBIES, but not quite to the same effect. Good work as always my friend =D

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  8. Wow Becky...you found logic and understanding in an extremely bizarre film. This made my morning. Don't forget the "diet" includes cheese as well, but this film is stocked full of cheese.

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