Broken Wings (2002)
Starring: Orly Zilbershatz-Banai, Maya Maron
Director: Nir Bergman
Studio: Sony Classics
Video: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround (Hebrew), Dolby Digital Stereo (English)
Language: Hebrew (English subtitles)
Length: Approx. 84 minutes
Broken Wings’ central premise concerns a primal circumstance we all
have experienced or fear happening–loss of someone we love deeply.
Irreparable, heartbreaking, impossible loss. This Israeli film by first
time director Nir Bergman won nine of Israel’s filmmaking awards and
has won high international regard as well.
Since the sudden death of her husband nine months ago, Dafna
Ullman (Orly Silbersatz Banai) appears to have given up mothering
her four children. The two older teenagers and the two younger ones
each desperately need Dafna to become more present as their mother
again. After three months of retreating to her bed, she’s now
retreating to work with long hours as a midwife at a hospital.
Yair (Nitai Gaviratz) the older brilliant son, has dropped out of
school and is working at night on the subways passing out fliers
dressed in a mouse costume. He has shut out his sibings and girlfriend
and now considers life meaningless. Maya (Maya Maron) the oldest, has
resentfully taken on the role of surrogate mother a good part of the
time. Much of the grief of each of the siblings and the mother is
conveyed quietly if not silently. And so the experience of viewing this
film becomes more powerful and real.
Maya’s role is the most fully developed of the four sibings. We
eventually learn the circumstances of the father’s death and about the
irrational guilt Maya feels. Nevertheless, Maya is very angry
with her mother for preventing her from following her dreams.
They are in frequent conflict. Our hearts go out to the younger boy and
girl, 11 year old Ido (Daniel Magon) and Bahr (Eliana Magon), the
little sister, who badly need a normal family life again.
The role of Dafna is a subtle and complex one as well.
Dafna is overwhelmed by grief and needs a reprieve from the world
including giving reasonable attention to her children, though it
becomes clear that is not realistic if the family is to survive. That
she neglects all of her children on various levels is impossible to
overlook but she remains a sympathetic character because of the
complexity of her role.
When another serious crisis occurs, each family member emerges from
their grief in their individual ways, forced to focus their attention
outward. The subtle acting, directing and writing effectively reflect
real life. Broken Wings is a satisfying experience as we see the
Ullmans difficult journey as they come to terms with their loss,
grapple with their particular emotions and situations and move forward.
This is a family not easily forgotten.
The DVD transfer is generally fine, with good colors and flesh tones
but just average detail. Some of the panoramic shots are a little
grainy. On the whole, a good transfer. Sound effects are used but are
limited. Dialogue is crisp and clear without distortion.
The lack of special features was disappointing. Because of my high
regard for this film, I would have enjoyed a featurette with the
actors and the director talking about the film. Previews for several
other Columbia titles are included.