Plastic Bag (2009) – An Auto-Biopic!


The article ‘Islands of Garbage’ by Arun, yesterday in Creofire, had provoked thoughts and kindled some memories alike. So I was quite motivated to dust off something from my memory attic that ideologically serves as a follow up of the line of thought that the aforementioned article has began.


Plastic Bag Poster


Plastic bag is a short film directed by Iranian- American filmmaker Ramin Bahrani who has also co-wrote the story with Jenni Jenkins. Historically we’ve been using plastics over 150 years, now. It is believed to have been invented in 1860s. Over years this has become a part of our modern lifestyle, and like electricity, plastics are inseparable from human livelihood. Though the usage of plastics have doubtlessly backfired, disrupting the eco-balance, we continue to use it as we haven’t yet developed a successful and commercially viable replacement for plastics.

The story is all about the journey of a plastic bag starting from a supermarket, self narrated by the bag itself (voice by veteran German filmmaker Werner Herzog). The success of the film in terms of its artistic exploration comes with its achievement in bringing up a non living thing into a lively life-like character. The bag narrates to the viewer its journey and addresses the user, a woman who first carries it from a super market, as it’s ‘maker’.


plasticbag 2


The bag serves his purpose for quite a while to his maker, which he is very much contented about. Over days he is trashed and the bag is exposed to phase the face the open world all alone. He then goes on an ordeal journey that begins from a dump land in the outskirts of the city. He stays strong despite the rough weather and wanders like a waif, dreaming about meeting his maker again.

He even has a short romance with a fellow bag (!) before ending up with a small group of bags. From them he gets enlightened about the vortex, a plastic bag’s floating paradise in the Pacific Ocean. (Only the Pacific Trash Vortex’ is referred here.) Drifting in tune with the song of the wind current the plastic bag finally reaches its dreamed destination ‘the vortex’, where he mingles with millions perhaps billions of fellow mates.

He even finds sharing similarities with that of the jelly fishes after his maiden meetings with them under water. Indestructible by power of nature the bag now is accustomed with the currents of water and gears up to his journey in water enjoying the spectacular diversity of nature in the water world. The film ends with the bag’s note after a sigh, “I wish you to have created me so that I could die.”


Director Ramin Bahrani

Director Ramin Bahrani


The film got screened as the out of competition opening film in the 66th Venice Film Festival, in the shorts category and bagged wider appreciation. This eco-themed short film is not preachy at the first place hence avoids the documentary tonality in an elegiac way. Who would better tell the tale of the non-decomposable plastic bag better than itself?



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