The Granite Tower
Finding Happiness In the Middle of a Desert
Lee Yun Mi  |
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승인 2016.09.01  00:35:46
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People are sometimes like hell to each other, and are like heaven at other times. Out of Rosenheim, Bagdad Café (1993) delivers this message to its audience with Jasmine and Brenda’s moving story. It shows how an optimistic person can turn people around to have a positive view toward the world. Starting in desolate Rosenheim, Café Bagdad, the audience will enjoy watching how the characters learn to see the world through rosy spectacles because of each other.

The movie shows how a person in a group can give a positive influence to others. In the middle of the desert in Bagdad, there is a shabby café, with customers seldom visiting, and no coffee machine. Jasmine enters Bagdad Café after leaving her husband. Brenda, the café owner, and her family are living their lives without any blessing. In one corner of the café, Brenda’s son is playing the piano that no one listens to. In another corner, Brenda’s grandson cries out, and Brenda is yelling at Jasmine, who Brenda thinks is a dangerous person.
Thanks to Jasmine’s positive attitude and affable personality, however, people in Bagdad Café feel intimate to Jasmine and each other. More importantly, the characters’ interrelationships change because of Jasmine’s magic show. This operates as a factor which attracts many more customers and lets the café thrive to prosperity. Because of the improvement of their relationship and prosperous business, Brenda and members of the café feel happy like never before.
The “Magic Show” means more than just a means that leads the café to a success; through it, Jasmine brings magic to desolate Bagdad—Bagdad turns into a peaceful place. This changes not only Jasmine’s life, but also Brenda’s and her family’s. The audience can easily notice the change just by the different facial expressions of the characters before and after.
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In regards to filming technique, the director succeeds in creating a stunning imagery throughout the whole running time through various devices. At the start of the movie, the scenery is depicted as desolate. The characters show menacing looks, which depict how unfortunate their lives are. Jasmine and Brenda had both left their husbands. They both were living in misfortune, with no hilarious conversations, giggles or humming of happy life. However, after Brenda and Jasmine’s relationship improves, their lives also become much happier. The same landscape of Bagdad is illustrated as much more beautiful; the sky of the desert changes its color into various shades.
Desert of Bagdad is the location of the movie, and the color sense of the place is very vivid, except for the sandy ground. For instance, the color of the sky is very clear and transparently blue. Along with the sky, the colors of the props—a tee shirt a character is wearing, a car, and café building are usually primary colors. The color sense is strikingly vivid, which creates a great harmony with the vague shade of the sand in the background. The viewers of the movie would be fascinated by the beautiful imagery.
The audience can notice that there are frequent switches of scenes. There are numerous characters that come up, and the director shows each scene related to characters in a fast but frequent pace. This makes the audience delude themselves as if they are watching a play instead of a movie. With slightly exaggerated performances of the characters and scenes that are sequential but separate in the same location, the film evokes a unique atmosphere. The boomerang of a customer soaring up into the sky is used as one of the devices of scene change and time elapse.
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Although the film creates a play-like atmosphere, it does not contain myriads of conversation. That is, the conversation among the characters does not serve as the most important factor that develops the story. Percy Adlon, the director, clearly succeeds in proceeding the plot without having to insert too much dialogue. One of the most interesting traits of the film is that the characters’ expressions and demeanors are the most important device that evolves the movie, without making it so verbal.
Great filming skill makes the film a masterpiece indeed, but also the splendid use of music is another feature of Out of Rosenheim, Bagdad Café. “Calling You”, sung by Jevetta Steele, is the main soundtrack of the movie. It serves as a tool that perfectly connects the grief of parting and hilarious events seamlessly. The song matches with the desolate vibe of Bagdad, and the lyrics also match some parts of the film. The lyrics, “I am calling you,” foreshadows the fateful meeting of Jasmine and Brenda, which in the end turns each other’s lives into pleasant ones. It symbolizes that the two women have been praying for themselves, calling someone to come into their lives and save them from endless misery.
The movie Out of Rosenheim, Bagdad Café will encourage the audience to find an unexpected blessing in their lives. Just like Brenda and Jasmine, while going through misery, people are actually bound to be endowed with something that help them put up with all the distress and get out of the woods.
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