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    Swimmin' on the verge of a nervous breakdown

    The institutionalized heroine of the powerful film "Dolphins" looks at her goldfish bowl and dreams of freedom.


    "Dolphins" begins, naturally enough, with dolphins.

    Written and directed by: Farhad Yawari.
    Cast: Julia Brendler, Marco Hofschneider, Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss, Anna Thalbach.
    Cinematography: Torsten Breuer.
    Music by: Marcel Barsotti.
    Williamsburg Brooklyn Film Festival 2000
  • Overview
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  • In a gleaming blue sea, they are joined by a beautiful nude swimmer matching their graceful movements amid the sunbeams.

    But this intoxicating vision is merely a swimming trip of the mind, as we quickly learn. The woman, Lara, comes back to reality in a white room with barred windows in a hospital mental ward.

    Whether she really belongs there, amid patients with much more obvious psychological quirks, is not clear. But it is clear that her dolphin fantasy, inspired by the goldfish bowl in her room, represent a vision of freedom outside the walls that confine her.

    Whether she will ever recover that freedom or only live it in her mind, we don't know. The head doctor or nurse of the ward eyes Lara with something that might be jealousy as she gets out of a bath that has transported her to dolphin world.

    The hospital staff keeps her under watch and sometimes restraints — but one employee, Jacob (Marco Hofschneider of "Europa Europa"), sympathizes with her and would like to help her out. Meanwhile, Lara stews in her room and makes gestures of defiance that only get her in trouble.

    What's most remarkable about the film is that it's essentially a silent movie — this plot is carried out wordlessly, set only to lush but moody music, and it's up to the viewer to read the thoughts of Lara and her oppressors. Filmmaker Farhad Yawari, who fled Iran and made the movie in Germany, has created a visually stunning film that tantalizes the eyes but haunts the psyche with its fable of freedom and imprisonment.

    MAY 9, 2000

    Reader comments on Dolphins:

  • dolphins   from paulina rolirad, Aug 26, 2000
  • Re: dolphins   from DŽbora, Aug 19, 2004
  • really should have been titled "blue"   from sage, Sep 18, 2003
  • On film, "Dolphins"   from AndrAIA, Oct 24, 2003

  • Post a comment on "Dolphins"