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In a scene Bruce is seen spraying something while working on his bed. He sprays a bottle of liquid onto a root like growth on a rock. What is the growth? Was this addressed in the screenplay? Throughout the movie wood, and algae (some sort of growth on the rocks) are seen fading in or out of the scene.

What is the relevance of showing wood and the growth in the screenplay? Because his father works on jellyfish, starfish, sea cucumbers, and lizards (to be able to sustain toxicity) only.

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    I think Dr. Egon Spengler put it best: "I collect spores, molds, and fungus." – Omegacron Apr 3 '15 at 14:49
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According to the official novelisation it's a desktop zen moss garden.

What he's spraying is presumably tap water:

He knew in a vague way that he was hungry, and the only reason he became at all aware that he had made himself dinner was because at one point — while tending a small Zen moss garden atop his makeshift desk — he suddenly realized that his stomach was full.

As to why they focus on the green algae; the out of universe reason is to foreshadow his transformation into something green.

  • Ang Lee's technical direction is a bit too "artsy" for me. The constant focusing on rocks & moss was kind of weird, but I thought it was to show a focus on "life", even that in the desert. "Life adapts" or some such nonsense. – Omegacron Apr 3 '15 at 14:51
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As @Richard already noted, it's intended to be a Zen moss garden.

I believe the intent is that it's part of his anger management regimen--tending to it is intended to have a calming effect. Even when it's not present, it can be his "happy place" that he can contemplate when he needs to calm down, even if it's not physically present at the time.

Taking the longer view, keep in mind that one of the tenets of Buddhism (Zen or otherwise) is that most (all?) that we perceive is illusion. Anger is seen largely as a result of our interaction with that illusion. At least according to the theory, by contemplating something that's part of nature, and therefore less of an illusion (or something like that--I'm no authority on Buddhism) one becomes aware that his anger is not only a result of illusion, but is actually illusory itself. If he realizes that his anger is an illusion, it becomes much easier to let go of his anger, and control it rather than letting it control him.

  • It couldn't be a part of anger management, because Bruce was always bottled up, could neither feel not express emotions. A zen garden could mean: 1) to handle repressed memories, if he is lost all the time this could be a reminder to pull back to reality. 2) a companion, you could see Bruce still has mighty crush on Betty from the way he looks at her, so after their break up this might be to give him company 3) his transendental ideologies (paintings by Chura Obata in his house) so this moss signifies growth, compensating the deaths (frog) the nature of his work calls for, – Sandeep Kotla Apr 4 '15 at 6:27
  • @SandeepKotla: Sorry, but that sounds like obvious nonsense to me. Anger is an emotion, so even if he doesn't express it very constructively, he obviously does feel at least one emotion, and the major recurring theme of the story is his attempt to control that. – Jerry Coffin Apr 4 '15 at 6:30
  • But his temper problems doesn't arise until he gets exposed to the gamma radiations in the lab. (When he was a kid he was shown not expressing his anger, but after the accident when David goes to meet him, suggests him to control his temper.) – Sandeep Kotla Apr 4 '15 at 6:50

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