Creator: Yoshiura Yasuhiro
Studio: Purple Cow
Length: 99 minutes
Highlights: Classic tropes fused with a unique concept
She manages to catch herself on a fence, and is rescued by a boy on the surface named Age. He helps her to a shed, where she is able to sit on the ceiling. Although she is constantly in danger of falling into the sky, Patema is fascinated with the endless blue, the sun, and the stars. While Age teaches Patema about life on the surface, and she tells him about life underground, the two begin to develop a tentative romance. But Age’s world is dominated by a totalitarian police state, who believe that those the sky swallowed up were sinners and evildoers, and Patema is soon captured by the “bat men” (policemen). Age must find out a way to save Patema before she falls into the sky.
Created by writer and director Yoshiura Yasuhiro as his second full-length film, Patema Inverted is a fantasy film which lives up to its name. Patema spends the entire film quite literally “inverted”; gravity is reversed for her compared to Age. This creates the unique circumstance of Patema being forced to cling to Age as her only solid ground, as it were. It also creates some absolutely stunning shots as Age and Patema interact while inverted compared to each other, and as Patema plummets into the limitless blue beneath her feet.
Yoshiura then melds this unique concept with all the trappings of a classic fantasy story. There is adventure, romance, vile villains, and dark secrets to uncover. It is a traditional story of someone thrust into danger by circumstances beyond their control, forced to become the hero the audience wants and expects. It’s a story we all know quite well, the province of countless movies and fairytales told to us as children. Yet by changing just one minor detail, the orientation at which the story is told, it becomes new and fresh.
What’s so important about Patema Inverted is the way it shows us how locked into traditional thinking we are. When you think about it, what Yoshiura changed is a very small thing, merely how the characters view each other (and, in turn, how we as the audience views them). It shows us how much we can change an archetypal story that we have all heard countless times just by altering one little thing none of us would ever think to change. When you really think about it, it’s amazing that a movie like this has never been made before, but who would think to invert gravity? Patema Inverted is a movie that reminds me to think about the simple, dependable things I’ve not thought about in far too long. Because now, I can’t help but wonder what life would be like inverted.