Table of contents

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Some notes on a story about family & friends

What better occasion for a comedy than the separation of the continents. Everything that seems to us to make up world in which we live is tossed about by forces so far beyond our control that we have to wonder, are not our daily contrivances silly after all? If this is the mark of necessity, how can our conventions even begin to deal with it?

It seems this is the question facing comedy, how we can live in our world without being blind to the differences between our desires & the necessity that rules over this world. Happily, our protagonists are animals & therefore fit in nature better than we do. Unfortunately, nature writ large does not seem any likelier to help them survive… We have reason to suspect the animals are contrived, but that may be the point of the comedy.

The tiger has been domesticated to the extent that he befriends herbivores of various kinds. Needless to say, we never see anything eating throughout the story, although we see some creatures taking care to acquire food. The cleaned-up image we get of nature is this: Some animals are pirates. But if we recall that under the law of nations pirates are held to be enemies of all mankind, we begin to see the point.

Now, nature is also treated comically. Aside from friendship between different species, which seems like an image of peace, there is an elephant who thinks its parents are possums. As it turns out, not even family is truly what it is spontaneously. In fact, nature is put in question. Somehow, the extension of family to friends seems to define nature even in moving away from the way things usually work.

The tiger gets a mate in the end. That is natural. The species eventually went extinct. The mammoth also wants to go back to his family. There is a very comic scene with mammoths in a cave who say that what they see in the cave resembles the world. Right afterward, the cleverer mammoth muses on the eventual extinction of her species, given youthful stupidity.

A note on the comedy, finally. Ice Age amuses most because of the misadventures of the squirrel Scratch – what an evocative name! – perpetually searching for a nut he is ill-equipped to catch. Of course, it is natural for the squirrel to desire the nut. The world, however, does not seem to be such that this desire can be satisfied. That seems to be a small version of the truth comedy teaches in the larger versions.

The strangest thing about the comedy is the way it suggests solutions come about in a comedy. They lie in wait under the surface.

Yet another family comedy with the prehistoric animals;