The Structure & Morals of ‘The Old Lady & The Pidgeons’

Stephen Russell-Gebbett’s ‘Wonders in the Dark’ Analysis

After helping a friend analyse the structure of Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’, I started to wonder what actually makes my choice of film a worthwhile watch? I’ve chosen this film to analyse because of my reaction to the style of art and animation and how ridiculous, charming and hilarious it was;  but on revisiting it and reading Sam Juliano’s analysis, I wonder what makes it a worthwhile story? What’s the moral?

In a kind and forgiving world, the old lady might have stopped when the policeman showed her his foot and put an end to the whole bizarre situation…


Finding the shape of ‘The Old Lady & The Pigeons’ using Vonnegut’s Graph


But no. Instead we are left at the end with a hungry cat and our hero of sorts out on the street pretending to be a pigeon.

This film lines up with Vonnegut’s shape of the old testament. Where mankind was given incremental gifts from a deity before being ousted from good standing we now have a starving policeman cheats his way into free meals from a wealthy woman before discovering she’s using him and being cast into destitution.

The only reason I can think to end a story like this is for the shock factor and the humour of the situation. In addition, if his storytelling is anything like his art style, its supposed to be gritty, a little rough around the edges. There’s very little conventional about the film as a whole, so why make a conventional story?


But what are we learning? Russel Gebbet’s view is there is no moral. After watching The Triplets of Bellville I realise its just ‘That’s life!’ and ‘Things happen, that’s all they ever do’. Madame Souza spends the entire film helping out her depressed son, coaching him to achieve his dreams and in the end, when he fails, rescuing him from a sinister but ridiculous crime ring. They just cycle off into the distance before we get a last glimpse of elderly Champion alone in the dark. No big moral, nothing really leaned. That’s life.

I find that quite moving in its self. What better moral than to know that life is just chaos after all?

Shit happens. Deal with it.





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