Sunday, August 31, 2003

Wings of Desire

Himmel Uber Berlin

Watching Wings of Desire> here in America is very different from watching it 18 years ago, when I saw it for the first time in Iran. I remember watching it at my friend’s house, enjoying every second of it, even though I couldn’t really understand that much of the dialogue and the voice-overs. It was the original German version, bad quality, without any English subtitles. But those things didn’t matter to me. I enjoyed the movie, and for years I carried the good memory of that amazing experience: seeing a dream-like masterpiece in that dark black-and-white world I used to live in.
I remember my mother always talking about “the good movies they used to make in those days.” Her example always was Bitter Rice starring Silvana Mangano, a forgotten Italian singer and actress from the ‘40s and ‘50s. My mother used to say that her voice was “the most beautiful voice ever.” I heard this for years until the time Cinema Paradiso was released and I got the video tape. In a nostalgic part of that movie, there is a scene when Silvana Mangano sings. To me she was not a bad singer but I didn’t find any thing that great about her voice. I showed that section of the movie to my mother and to my amazement she began denying that the person she was seeing was Silvana Mangano herself!... “I remember her voice. There was a kind of “zang” (meaning a pleasant sound of ‘chime’ in Persian) in Mangano’s voice that this singer’s voice lacks. This singer is someone imitating her.”
Last night, Wings of Desire was still beautiful; I still enjoyed seeing it. But it lacked that shocking and mesmerizing effect it had on me in those years.
Is it because my environment has changed or because I have changed? I really don’t know. But I know what has happened to the angels in the movie is the same thing that has happened to Silvana Mangano’s voice. The angels lost their “Zang.”