Faraway, So Close

We went to Faraway, So Close this Friday, which is one of the most boring movies I've ever seen. The plot itself is pretty decent: an angel becomes a human in order to experience what humans see and hear. This is, in some sense, prompted by the fact that humans no longer see nor hear angels, and also the fact that Cassiel (the angel who becomes the human) wants to make a difference in peoples' lives.

Given such a theme, there is a great deal of potential for the analysis of the human condition, and this is somewhat accomplished. One of the first things Cassiel does after he becomes human is trade in his armour for money and then he uses that money to gamble and promptly ends up in prison. He then proceeds to indulge in various other human pleasures (curiously enough, sex isn't one of them) such as drinking, going to a Lou Reed concert, and begging on the streets. He then is given money and encouragement by a kind stranger (who happens to be Lou Reed, most coincidentally) and decides to "make it". The rest of the story is about how he tries to do good. In the end he succeeds, but pays with his life and becomes an angel again. Throughout the movie, the Cassiel has to deal with time, which humans are always running out of.

Now, all this would've been very well had the movie lasted the usual time. But then, as is the case in most of these artsy movies, there were a lot of scenes shown in great, and boring, detail. The movie starts off with the camera zooming on this angel who's on top of this statue and the camera takes about 5 minutes too zoom into the angel's face. And this is the beginning. This repetitiousness is carried on to the very end, where Cassiel dies and becomes an angel again and another 5 minute scene is shown in order for us to realise a "full circle" has happened. It completely ruined what could've been a good movie.

The movie is set in Berlin, Germany, and it depicts the forlorness of human existence. Apparently, this is a reflection of the attitude of the people there, but since I cannot identify with this attitude, I found all the imagery related to the city irrelevant. But if it is relevant to you, I'd encourage you to see this movie. If not, I'd definitely give it a miss!

An interesting issue is that humans perceive the world in all colours and the angels perceive it in black and white. This choice has both negative and positive point, and given that only one other choice exists, not a lot can be said about this.

The Director of the movie flew in from Berlin in order to speak to the audience and this (not his journey, but the question/answer session) increased my irritation greatly (well, I shouldn't say this since I found it amusing at times, barring the insipid jokes about snow, etc.). I firmly believe a lot of art is done for reasons only an artist can comprehend. While analysis of art is a reasonable thing to do, discussing the analysis with the artist somehow seems comical to me. This is illustrated by the ironic fact that in the movie itself there's an artist and people comment about how great his work is, and his style of art, and the artist is thinking that he really has no idea what he's doing, and neither do the people who admire his work.

One of the cool quotes in the film was: "Time is not money. Time is the absence of money." There were a lot of other good ones, but I forget, since the subtitles flew quite fast and the short-term memory isn't good enough to hold it all. Yes, there were a lot of European languages in the movie and the subtitles didn't make it easier to follow the movie either (i.e., it was hard to see). The Director explained that there were so many languages in the movie in order to depict the multi-cultural and multi-linguistic nature of the European Community, but I believe that is the wrong direction for the human race to proceed at least from a communications standpoint.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org