This is a feminist tale of liberation from patriarchy. Alice is in a Victorian oppressive environment where women should just accept whatever man they can get and not have dreams of achievements, because otherwise they will end up as unhappy delusionary spinsters. That is what happens to Alice’s aunt, who held out for true love and is still waiting for her Prince Charming, that never came (And the aunt is delusionary because of it). Meanwhile, Alice is being pressured into marrying an obnoxious selfish idiot of a rich boy who sees her only as an accouterment to his life and who proposes to her right before she falls into the rabbit hole. What else does a young woman without means do in such an unfair world?
So Alice goes on this journey in a wild world where she becomes the prophesied one to kill the dragon of the wicked queen in order to save the land. She doesn’t see herself as a warrior of course, but ultimately embraces her fate and kills the dragon and saves the day. When she comes back into the real world, she now has the courage to say no to the marriage proposal and convinces her dead dad’s ex-business partner to employ her with the company because she is a dreamer like her dad and has big dreams about where to take the business.
This movie is a parable meant to encourage young women that they have the same mythology as men, that they can slay dragons just like a man, that there is no difference between the narrative of male and female being, and that ultimately, a woman does not need a man to be fulfilled, but she can find her meaning and purpose in a career or job, just like men do.
Remy and Jake are repo men of the near future who repossess artificial bodily organs from those who can’t make their payments – thus killing them under the protection of the law of course. They are of course heartless and without concern for their victims, who are usually irresponsible in not making their payments, but mostly portrayed as victims of the cold heartless corporation who manipulates people into buying their organs purely for profit and don’t care at all about the humanity of those to whom they sell. When Remy has an accident, and has to get an artificial heart, and falls back on his payments then his friend Jake has to repo his heart so the chase is on.
Well, this story deals with the moral theme of the corporation and profit seeking vs. the human being. The recurring statement that the repo men use to rationalize their taking of human lives is, “A job is just a job.” This is of course, the rationale that many people use to avoid being accountable for what they do to make money in life, so it’s all very relevant to our world. But it is a very very bloody movie, especially the ending, which I think ties in with the morality of the tale being about money versus humanity, and blood is very human and is the price paid for the dehumanizing of life.
Jake even makes the argument that society is based on rules. If we don’t enforce the rules, then we have anarchy which is worse. But Remy concludes after he experiences the other side of the gun that “In the end, a job is not just a job. And if you want to change who you are, you have to change what you do.” So in this story, who we are is not separate from our behavior. We are what we do. We cannot divorce our private moral values from our public actions. I was just following orders simply will not do as an excuse for anyone. The movie is a tragic tale of warning as it ends with a very Brazil ending of the hero being taken over by technology and put in a dream state of control by the corporation, the ultimate end of our humanity if we let ourselves be driven by technology over our humanity, by artificiality over reality, by the pursuit of pleasure over accepting suffering.