“Live… Live and be free.” ~ Gilbert Bougainvillea, ‘Violet Evergarden’
Being alive. Being vulnerable. Lungs brimming with bliss or coughing up blood. Hearts fond. Hearts shattering. Bared open, exposed to the world. Being alive is a remarkably brave act.
‘Violet Evergarden’ lays a devastatingly beautiful testament to the essence of this art of ‘Being’. The tender, fragile yet persevering courage of being human. Aspiring each day to experience life with its euphoric highs and gut-wrenching lows. Hopes, and dreams blooming within despite everything. Fearful yet existing.
“Do I have any right to live after I killed so many people as a weapon?”
~Violet Evergarden, ‘Violet Evergarden’
The story artfully transports us on a painfully poignant journey of a ‘human vessel’- an empty skeleton of flesh and bones engineered into a firearm. A young girl conditioned into a human-machine as a mere tool of war. With seemingly frail body structure and identically feeble hands hanging by her side. Earning the title of a ‘War Maiden’ with battlefields of annihilated soldiers under her operation. A dreaded assassin ringing empty & devoid of humanity. A deadly combination of the worst of humankind.
Until the bridges of kindness met chance, leading her path to Major Gilbert– the benefactor of her identity. Her first experience with the essence of being human. Her chance at life, her meaning of beauty. Her path to becoming Violet Evergarden – an epitome of humble benevolence.
“Your name is Violet. I’m sure that you will grow into a woman just as lovely as these flowers.
You won’t be a tool, but a person worthy of that name.”
~ Gilbert Bougainvillea, ‘Violet Evergarden’
Violet flowers introduce ingenious serendipity into the portrait of our protagonist.
The flowers embody a delicate embroidery of the essence of true & everlasting love, innocence, humility, and loyalty. A symbol the protagonist goes on to grow into instinctually.
We see Violet tread a path traversing the layers of life she undresses while getting acquainted with it simultaneously. Discovering and unraveling her humanity on a grueling journey. At times demanding herself to skin herself alive emotionally to uncover & understand who she is.
“I want to know what ‘I Love You’ means…”
~ Violet Evergarden, ‘Violet Evergarden’
Violet begins her quest as an Auto-memory Doll chasing to perceive the meaning of the last words of Major Gilbert. An odyssey captured and scrawled into letters carrying a slice of life alongside. Seeking to interpret the delicate meaning of love in the nuances of the life she chose to lead as an Auto-memory doll.
Major Gilbert denoted salvation from a sordid life Violet was forced to lead as an orphan. Meeting him didn’t magically renounce her of who she had been or what she had done. She still fought wars. Killed ruthlessly, shedding blood on battlefields, owing it was all she was made to know of life so far. But coming to know & follow him kindled unforeseen beauty and purpose into her dark, gloomy, abandoned self in meanings she didn’t, at the time, have the emotional intelligence to interpret.
Before Violet knew the word ‘beauty’, she had attached the foreign feeling to the Major’s eyes. Gilbert signified her first feelings of warmth, value, care, and identity she ever felt in her life. His orders became her reason for being.
So, the words “I love you” ripped through her, rivaling the pain of her amputated hands laying in the pool of blood Gilbert bled in as he confessed. She didn’t understand what he meant by them. The unknown meaning lay a heavy weight on her shoulders as she failed to respond suitably or follow through on his last declarations.
Thus, her journey from a War Tool to an Auto-memory Doll connotes a dedication to her sense of loyalty towards the Major. Her first steps towards growing into her given name. Violet Evergarden– her rebirth.
Through her encounters as an Auto-memory Doll, we see Violet getting introduced to & learning empathy, courage, heartbreak, adventure, loneliness & its co-relevance with love. Flowing & growing. Further moving forward to understand and experience grief, loss, agony, and regret; leading her to rediscover her purpose.
“Words can have different interpretations. What one says isn’t the whole truth.”
~Cattleya Baudelaire, ‘Violet Evergarden’
One of the first challenges Violet comes across in her endeavors as an Auto-memory Doll is the realization of the amusingly contradicting nature of people.
The art of being human wasn’t supposed to be pleasing, rather it was orchestrated to fill us to brim with feelings. And sometimes, those feelings prove difficult to digest. We take shortcuts, deny, pretend, and reaffirm our own importance through others or at others’ expense. Building delicately tailored lies to deceive ourselves into self-entitlement.
Being an Auto-memory doll demanded Violet the ability to read between these lines. Unspoken words, broken silences, stolen glances, and hesitant body language. Deciphering each into graceful letters conveying all that people truly seek to express but can’t find the words or courage to put into words.
Gradually learning the weight of these feelings and the turbulent power of words in untangling and stringing emotions into beautifully woven letters, Violet gently peels off the layers of the complexity of being human.
“Everything I’ve done so far has sparked a flame that is now burning me up.
I must have prevented them from keeping promises of their own.”
~Violet Evergarden,’Violet Evergarden’
Violet’s maturing empathy equipped her with a transcendent ability to write. Her budding vulnerability shaped her humanity with the shades of people she met & helped. We see her becoming more perceptive & receptive. Beginning to care for clients, for their stories, investing herself into her work just for the sake of it. Dismantling the intricate timbres of humanity while maneuvering forward to distill supple, and delicate emotions into liquid ink on paper. Ever so subtly wandering into territories in her mind she was earlier inept to understand.
At an age when kids learn to read, speak & play with toys, Violet was anesthetized into a war weapon. The weight of life measured to a carefully administered 100-grain bullet cartridge. Words carried significance as orders and corrupted when entailing emotions unnecessary to accomplishing said orders. Living was an act solely enclosed in the closed perimeters of following military rulings and killing the enemy.
Freedom was a word as foreign to her as an ordinary childhood.
Withdrawing from such a past was bound to crash back into her. With her blooming empathy came self-awareness, turning its blunt sides sharp into a double-edged sword. Stripping Violet emotionally naked, reminding her of all the sins she had committed as a war weapon. All the ‘one-day’ wishes and promises she had strangled. Snatching away hundreds of lives, splitting people apart from their loved ones forever.
“Can we watch the stars together if we cross paths again?”
~ Leon Stephanotis, ‘Violet Evergarden’
Our pasts merge with our shadows, walking along with us every day & swallowing us whole at night. We cannot outrun it, erase it, or change it. The things we do, people we meet alongside, choices we have & the decisions we make. Ultimately our actions build us into who we are.
Unfortunately, Violet wasn’t given an alternative to who she could’ve been. Her actions were born out of a total absence of a moral compass & conscience she never got the chance to grow into. And yet, her actions bore a consequence she couldn’t have escaped by victimizing herself through the reasonings of her past. The weight of the atrocities couldn’t be undone & lifted once committed.
With this realization, we see Violet crumble into pieces, shattering apart from the burgeoning agony of her acts. Spiraling into the dark, wondering if she even deserved to live? If she had the right to write such sacred letters that brought people together with the same hands that must have torn so many apart?
There are two sides to each coin. And we see this intrinsically intertwined into the story through Violet’s journey of atonement moving forward. Because just as her past as a war weapon cannot be erased; her actions, accomplishments, and the lives she has changed choosing to be an Auto-memory Doll cannot be disregarded and overlooked either.
“Love is always in a sunshine-filled place
Even if I can’t see you, can’t touch you
It’s like you’re by my side.
Love is always like looking through the clear water
Go to accept it and it leaves
Just like you”
~Violet Evergarden,’Violet Evergarden’
Carrying forward a healing heart swollen with freedom, we see Violet choose to get acquainted with life now on her own terms. Discovering the weight of her actions, and recognizing the responsibility that comes with each decision.
Violet pours all of who she has become into all of who she wants to be. Honoring Major Gilbert’s last words dutifully. Living and being free. Gradually coming to terms & savoring the meaning of loving someone. Violet recognizes the heartachingly cathartic significance of respecting life in the absence of our lost ones for all they couldn’t experience. Treating life as both; a right and a privilege. Living it to the fullest- all the good, bad & in-between, commemorating their presence within our hearts and memories through all we enjoy and suffer.
Violet Evergarden blooms graciously into her name. Under sunny skies, and through cloudy, grey storms. From an emotionally handicapped killing machine into a mosaic of all the people she has met, warm & gracious.
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Violet Evergarden is now streaming on Netflix!