The opening scene of this great love story haunted me forever.
An old woman, Emmi (Brigitte Mira) soaked in the rain outside takes shelter in a bar. There are only a few people inside who all turn to look at her. She timidly asks for a Coke and sits herself at the farthest table possible. At the bar, there is Ali (El Hedi ben Salem) who seems interested in her right from the first moment she enters in. Later, to the others’ surprise, he goes to her table and asks her for a dance. Thus begins Ali and Emmi’s story, against all judgment from everyone around them.
Is it her timidity that makes this scene so touching and memorable or the way that Ali looks at her – with the hint of a smile, the hint of who he is? Or is it that all the other characters are frozen sort of like props, soulless? Is it the abrupt camera movement that (celebratively) overemphasises the magnetic field between them? Is it the sudden change of music, from sadness/stability to joy/rhythm?
Every detail that makes up this scene is so beautiful and harmonious, so out of place, so artificial yet natural and familiar. That is probably why it never leaves me.