Analysis of “Rubber” the movie (2010)

It is the first and probably only film in the world where the main character is a killer rubber tyre possessing psychokinetic talents. The director of this film, Quentin Dupieux, is easier recognized by his nickname, Mr Oizo, rather than by his name. He is also a producer, musician and DJ. His most famous work so far are the adverts for Levi’s Jeans, starring a yellow puppet head-banging to music, holding a sausage in its mouth as if it were a cigar. This particular director’s work is most often remembered for their absurdist, surreal qualities.

“Rubber” was shot in Los Angeles, Lancaster and Palmdale (California, USA). The desert’s natural lighting had a positive effect on the final picture – vibrant, intensive colors which make the recorded picture of the highest quality. Dupieux also has a tendency to set up the camera in “crazy” places, which gives us varied, interesting camera shots. The special effects team also made a lot of effort to have the living tyre roll in a realistic way.

The beginning of “Rubber” makes the viewer unsure what to expect at first. In a piece of brilliant monologue, the sheriff – policeman informs the viewers – both those sitting in the cinema and ones gathered in the desert – that the film is a tribute to inconsequence, a factor of “no reason” present in almost every cinematographic piece.

„Ladies, gentlemen, the film you are about to see today is an homage to the "no reason" - that most powerful element of style”

This „no reason” is his answer to everything and, if you take into account that the man is seen traveling in the trunk of the police car instead of the seat, the viewer is made to feel confused. The act of spilling a glass of water he received from the driver onto the desert sands is also there for no apparent reason. It could be a reference to the apt observation, that there is no water on the desert.

The film’s plot is placed on three planes, which gradually begin to fade into one another.

First of all, we have a group of people who drove to the desert to watch a film through binoculars. What is surprising is that they call a film what is really a spectacle which is supposed to take place in the field, with no script – in fact, it is almost reality. It doesn’t matter whether the film moves indoors, the viewers see everything perfectly fine. This omnipresent irony is the strongest part of this film.

The second plane is related to events connected to the organizers of this spectacle, the sheriff-policeman and the accountant who mediate between the viewers and the characters.

The third and most important plane is the story of the Tyre, which springs to life, but does not know what, or perhaps who, it is.  The beginnings of the Tyre’s life are difficult. Just as a small child learns to crawl and walk, so does the Tyre learns to turn and move in its particular fashion. It also learns that it can destroy certain objects by crushing them, having no trouble with smashing a plastic bottle and even a live scorpion scuttling in the desert. However, when it tries to damage a glass bottle, it cannot manage to do so. Enraged, it realizes that it can destroy things using telekinesis. From that moment, heads of various rabbits, birds and people are seen bursting. The Tyre behaves justly to a point. It kills only those who mistreated it. The situation changes when it witnesses a group of people burning other tyres, whereupon it swears revenge. From that point, killings begin en-masse. The only person in the film who first points out that the murderer is a tyre is a little boy, who even tries to make contact with it. This most probably relates to the notion that kids see more than adults and they understand things differently. On the Tyre’s trail is the sheriff-policeman, who appears to be directing the story as it happens.

Quentin Dupieux has merged classic horror themes with surreal visuals. Naked woman under a shower? Typical. A tyre under a shower? Incredible. If we add in a tyre watching television, drinking water from a puddle, sleeping or feeling love, we receive something completely absurd.

The breakthrough scene is definitely the moment the Tyre sees itself in a mirror, while it’s whole life flashes before it’s eyes, where it discovers that it is not human.

“Rubber” is a film where the main character’s emotions are unreadable through face or voice expression. The creators had to present them in another way. The method used is simply incredible and adds a certain charm to the whole picture. They decided to use music. Most of the time, the movie is silent, with the only sounds being the tyre scraping through the ground, leaves rustling and animal calls. Only where there is a need to focus on the Tyre’s feelings the music starts to play. Thanks to this particular method, the viewer knows exactly when the Tyre feels anger, sadness or happiness. The soundtrack to “Rubber” contains electronic music produced by Mr Oizo and Gaspard Auge. It is first and foremost a soundtrack however, so hard electronic beats are only a small part of it. The sound is, of course, fat and juicy, the pieces intriguing and are easily imagined as backdrops for film scenes.

In the meantime, the Accountant, who is shown before in a scene filled with irony and grotesque, tries to feed the viewers with a poisoned turkey. Almost everyone, besides an old man in a wheelchair, end up dead. The sheriff decides to end the show, but resumes it once he finds out the old man has not eaten the turkey and is still alive and watching. The other policemen consider the sheriff a complete nut since they believe what is happening is reality, not fiction. What should be mentioned is that the sheriff is shot twice at his own request and still lives. He does this while trying to convince the others that this is only a film, not reality. The strangest perhaps is that the Accountant, who tries again to persuade the wheelchair-bound old man to eat the delicious poison, dies himself as a result of succumbing to the deliciousness of the turkey and eating it. I suspect this scene is added “for no reason”, since it makes completely no sense to me. Of all viewers observing the tyre, only one, crippled man is seen watching the spectacle with true focus, analytically and critically evaluating it, which, unfortunately, also leads to tragedy, since he involves himself in the film too much and becomes a part of it.

Analyzing this particular film what needs to be taken into account is that the main character is not the Tyre, but the audience. It is a metaphor for modern viewers who eat up story-told idiocy only because they go to the cinema just to fill up on popcorn.

Dupieux laughs at his own audience, which is oh so similar to the one poisoned on the desert. If asked why he’s poised to say “for no reason”.

This film is much more than just a story about a killer tyre.  It is “about” the tyre but the tyre is completely irrelevant to the story. It is really about the actors and the people who are in the film - they are the main focus of the story, which is told in a unique way. It is a metaphor for all those mainstream Hollywood films where things happen for no reason. It is a joke made from the Hollywood film world.

Quentin Dupieux’s piece is definitely extraordinary. It probably will not be enjoyed by all, some will even find it revolting.

Most of the people who criticize this movie say that it is boring to watch the adventures of a killer tyre which are ridiculous and make no sense. Those people do not understand the metaphor. It is not as stupid as it seems to be. This film is a small masterpiece – the form, production, viewers straight up on stage, the photography technique and the idea itself. It is a delicious, cunning parody of film reality. Watching “Rubber”, the viewer has a lot of time to think about what it is really about and what the point is, if there is any. For those who do not understand this film and consider it boring and pointless I suggest watching it again and not focusing on the tyre, which is only a storytelling tool.