03 March 2007

Faraway, So Close!

I spent the evening doing laundry. Not the most exciting Friday Night, but I've an insane 10 days coming up, and the laundry could wait no more.

Whilst laundering, I watched one of the better movies I've seen in a long time.

Based on the recommendation of a friend, I rented Wings of Desire and its sequel, Faraway, So Close!, by German director Wim Wenders. They tell the stories of angels walking amongst us everyday, and how two of them wish - and choose - to become human. (The American adaptation from a few years back, City of Angels, is but a pale reflection of the original films).

I watched Wings of Desire last week, and was blown away by its elegance, style and poignancy. Set in postwar Berlin in the autumn, half the film is black and white (the way the angels see the world) and the rest in color (how humans see the world). Berlin in and of itself becomes a character in its own right - a tragic, beautiful, and scarred character. I loved the film. Bruno Ganz (the main angel) has an amazing face capable of portraying the deepest emotion with just his eyes.

This evening, I decided to pop in Faraway, So Close. I think I enjoyed it even more than its predecessor. Again, set in Berlin - but this time just after the fall of the Wall. And, the film is not just strictly in German. It adds Italian, English, French and even Russian to the mix. This second film delves more deeply into the blindness and emptiness of humanity apropos the viewpoint and lack of understanding of heir angelic counterparts. There is also what I took to be a quasi-demonic character named Emit Flesti (read backward Time Itself), played brilliantly by Willem Defoe. And the importance - or lack thereof? - of time and how it's measured is one of the main themes of the film. The story starts off with a quote from the book of Matthew, which set the tone for the evening:

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will by full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23
Followed by:
We (the angels) are not the message. We are the messengers and the message is love".
Thoughtful, provocative, bittersweet - and beautiful.

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