Gabriel (1999)

Renaat Coppens’s short film Gabriel impresses with its beautiful cinematography. It appears as if the film was shot using a sepia filter, but in reality the colors are delicate nuances on black and white that gives a surreal, unearthly feel to the movie. The film tells  the story of a young boy growing up among nuns at an isolated monastery. His name is Gabriel and he doesn’t think of himself as a boy, but as a fallen angel impatiently awaiting the time when his wings will grow.

gabriel 1999

One gets to know Gabriel and his surroundings as he narrates the story himself. It soon becomes clear that he doesn’t like living in the monastery and doesn’t think highly of the nuns with one exception: Silvia – the only one who believes in him. Although there are no conversations between the characters of the film,  the pictures and sound create a wholesome story aided by a voiceover narrative by the adolescent protagonist. The musical score appropriately features treble voices, keyed fiddles and flutes that mix together to provide a spellbinding musical accompaniment fit for a heavenly story.

Kai Walgraven
Kai Walgraven Plays the Title Role in Gabriel

The Coming-of-Age motif of the film can be found in the thoughts of the young Gabriel, who seeks to explore and understand the world that surrounds him. His innocence shines through – emphasized by the appearance and the expressions of the young Kai Walgraven as Gabriel. Quite frequently, beautifully shot films tend to disappoint with their stories.  But that is not the case with this one. On the contrary, I was amazed by the sad, poignant and unexpected finale.

You can see the film at the site of its director Renaat Coppens .

IMDB listing