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Nicolas Cage’s Pig Explained-Eurydice, Greek Tragedies, And Grief

Movies about trauma and grief have become so prevalent they are their own subgenre. Everything from Amazon’s latest Encounter to indy treasure Sator examines the role of grief in the human condition. Nic Cage recently has cranked out several high-octane genre films about grief. The poor man gets attacked a lot and has more than his fair share of loved ones die in said attacks. In Mandy, his logger goes on a drug-fueled quest to avenge a cult leader and demonic bikers who killed his wife. In Prisoners Of The Ghostland, he has to fight his way out of a haunted land to kind of be the hero he wants desperately to be. He’s no stranger to quirky roles that may appear over the top but are actually brilliant reflections of the human spirit. Pig is the latest example.

In Pig Nic Cage’s Rob is a reclusive truffle hunter who spends his days hunting for truffles with his beloved pig and then cooking up sumptuous dishes for the two of them to consume. Amir, a captivating Alex Wolff(Old and Hereditary) who buys his truffles to sell in the city, his only interaction with humans. Those interactions are almost entirely one-sided until someone attacks Rob late at night and steals his pig. From that point on, Rob, and Amir who provides a ride, search for the people who took his pet.

He starts with the people who first took the pig and later is forced further into Portland, where he speaks to restaurant owners and chefs. Rob knows more about the city’s history than expected, given his reclusive lifestyle. Rob is a famous chef named Robin Feld, whose legend still prevails. Pig is more about the journey than the destination. Eventually, Rob finally finds out what happens to his pet.

The ending of Pig

At the end of Pig, Darius admits to Rob that the pig was dead. He took the pig because he was angry his son’s business was doing so well, so he hired a couple of junkies to take the pig, thinking this would ruin Amir’s business. The irony, of course, is the pig was not necessary for Rob to find the truffles. Inadvertently the junkies mishandled the pig, and she died before she got the Darius. As the film closes, Rob returns to his home and plays the recording of his wife singing that he had been unable to in the movie’s opening moments.

The many symbols in Pig

Symbolism is not subtle in Pig. Everything from the restaurant named Eurydice to Rob’s discussion with a young boy playing a handfan about persimmons is deeply symbolic. Despite the numbered story structure and story resolution, Rich in metaphor, Sarnoski’s film is not a straightforward narrative. Instead, this is a film about escaping the tragedy of death and finding a way to live again.

The restaurant where Amir finally realizes who Rob is is named after the Greek character Eurydice. The Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice is a tragic one about moving forward and our inability to accept the death of a loved one. Orpheus’s wife Eurydice died by a snake bite, and in his grief, Orpheus played his lyre so mournfully he was granted access to Hades. The latter agreed to release Eurydice back into the world of the living if Orpheus could walk in front of her and not look back until they were both back into the sunlight.

Orpheus managed to make it to the sunlight, but he succumbed to the fear that Hades had tricked him and looked back for Eurydice before she made it to the sunlight. She immediately disappeared back to the Underworld, where she remained permanently. From that point on, he was a shell of a man who retreated into himself until Furies killed him after he inadvertently rebuked them. It is a tragic tale of loss. It is both a story of enduring love and the inability to move on.

Rob, Amir, and Darius are just like Orpheus in their own way. All three have suffered losses that caused them to change into something they shouldn’t be. Amir and his father are watching their wife and mother die. They both morphed into extreme versions of themselves. Amir is a failson who desperately seeks his father’s approval, all while hating him. Darius has become a calculated criminal who clings to his empire while virtually ensuring his relationship with his son is ruined, and his business eventually fails.

Rob, whose wife Lori died, shut himself away to protect himself. He had become a hermit who hid from the world when he once shared his culinary gifts. He thinks he is protecting himself from further loss by closing himself off. Instead, the pig acted as a substitute for his wife, and Rob could channel all of his love into the animal instead of facing his sorrow.

Just before Rob goes to Eurydice, he meets a young boy in a seemingly meaningless scene that is a continuation of the legend. The young boy is playing a handfan which is a drum. This represents the point in the tale when Orpheus gets Hades and Persephone to let Eurydice go. Persimmons were thought of as the fruit of the Gods. They symbolize longevity and continuity. If persimmons are eaten before they are ripe, they are incredibly sour, just as the process of grief must continue and not be stopped before it is complete. All three men are soured by their despair.

Lastly, Rob cleansing himself in a stream on his way back to his wilderness home directly references the purification of his soul of the pain of his pet and, more importantly, his wife. He can finally move on and accept the loss of his pig and, more importantly, his wife. Through the ordeal and his discussion with Amir, he can understand he is not to blame for Lori’s death and must move forward with his life.

It’s about dealing with loss and pain

As much time is devoted to the pig, this film is about loss. It’s about the process of moving past the pain and through the steps of grief until you come back out the other side. Rob has found a way to function without dealing with his pain, but that doesn’t mean he is living. Every character is running away from grief. Everyone from Rob to Amir and Darius avoids their own losses, and even Chef Finway cannot do the emotional work.

Rob does love his pig, but he really wants to get his wife back. Intellectually he knows this is impossible, but emotionally his pig was a way to lose himself in undemanding companionship until he was ready to face the loss of Lori. He tells Amir he doesn’t need the pig to find truffles, and Amir asks him why they are going through all this to get her back. Rob explains it’s because he loves her. He does care for the pig, but he means his wife. Grief is about transformation, and only through that method can you truly live. To love is human and unfortunately, to lose a loved one is also human. Both are necessary components of the human condition.

Why did Darius take Rob’s pig?

Darius took Rob’s pig because he was angry his son had a thriving business with Rob. It is another Greek story about fault and ambition. Fathers and sons have tricky relationships. It is always about power. Mythology is riddled with stories about them. Darius has it, and Amir wants to carve out his piece of it to prove his worth to the harsh man. So Amir and Darius are locked in a battle of wills with themselves and each other. They circle each other like wary dogs, with Amir behind his father at every turn.

Darius makes some of his decisions out of over-protection and others out of greed and fear. He fears growing old and losing his wife. He also is terrified of becoming obsolete in his business if Amir succeeds. It’s a nasty cocktail that is always poisonous. Now that Amir knows the depths of his father’s depravity, it will be virtually impossible for them to have any kind of relationship.

Although genre-blending, Pig feels more otherworldly than partly because of Cage’s electric performance and director Michael Sarnoski’s stylish choices. In addition, cinematographer Patrick Scola’s lens captures the strange in the mundane. It is a beautiful, painful story about love, loss, and the journey back into the light. It is one Hulu right now.