Now released on Amazon and Prime Video, Woodwind is a film with a number of mysterious questions, each with open answers meant to reveal, not the screenwriter’s view, but to reveal yourself, the viewer, to unveil a specific viewer, who’s also on Bonifaz’s journey, the journey of the artist/s who created the movie.
The question of the identity of the mysterious woman has been asked ever since Fin Manjoo wrote the screenplay many years ago, and each member of the crew from the actors to even the costume department, would provide a wide range of answers over the years from pre-production to the screenings in recent times.
Alina and Agna
At first the basic possibilities of choice of the identity, seemed to popularly be between Alina, who was Bonifaz’s partner at the beginning of the movie and Agna, the woman he travels to India to meet. In the final act of the movie, Bonifaz appears to be taking Agna’s painting back to her and so it would seem he was retracing her movements after they had departed in the second act. However, Bonifaz leaves her painting in a middle temple, midway on his long staircase toward the higher temple and the mountain where he meets the mysterious woman. During the transition segments of the movie he is haunted by his memories of Alina and returning to her would signify a circular journey in his romantic relationships, particularly since we hear the poetic reflections of Alina which mirror Bonifaz’s own metaphysical poetry during his final journey. Not surprisingly, the actress of Alina (Andrea Christina Furrer) believes the mysterious lady was indeed Alina, and the actress of Agna (Jet Jandreau) believes the woman is Agna.
Bonifaz’s mother, Mother Nature
Many viewers alternatively, strongly felt, the mysterious woman was neither of those two and that she can only be Bonifaz’s mother. The movie begins with Bonifaz’s heartfelt words at his mother’s grave and his life journey climaxes and comes full circle at the very end where he reaches this cloaked woman. However, if one believes she is his mother, then either the viewer believes the final act is entirely imagined as in a dream, which is difficult to accept with the language of the cinema throughout those scenes. An explanation to support the theory that the woman is his mother, is that in the final act Bonifaz could have entered a new world, so to speak, and in order to join the world of his mother, Bonifaz too would have had to have passed on from the life we are presented with in the first two acts. Does that mean Bonifaz dies earlier in the movie? The mother theory is thus one of the most interesting possibilities that viewers have come up with. It begs another question, if Bonifaz is dead, then when in the movie does he die and is his death on or off the screen? Looking deeper into the film, there is a moment which could indeed signify the death of Bonifaz. This is when he is on his faithful journey to discover the body of the missing Indian musician in nature. This discovery ties much else in the movie, and just before finding the dead body, Bonifaz himself appears to have run out of energy on this hypnotic path and is seen to have fallen, and is laying on the ground, seemingly dead himself, only to be awakened in such a manner as if he had resurrected and in this very moment a new music track is born. This cycle of life and death repeats itself with the dead Indian musician and the foreigner Bonifaz mirroring one another on various levels.
A fourth random woman
The most simple theory is that the mysterious woman was just another fourth, new woman in the life of Bonifaz. Though, how can a new woman be introduced at the very end when the story has to sensibly connect itself to what we’ve already experienced through the earlier narrative of his life? Unless one believes life is full of chaos and random events. Surely, all the coincidences and connections has to have a meaning, and there has to be some kind of a point to his journey?
An unseen female figure who is not human
If she is neither of the women above, then perhaps she was with Bonifaz all along without us realizing she was there? Perhaps she was there on a metaphysical level and thus solves the other great mystery of Woodwind, that is, who is the mysterious voice that Bonifaz is speaking to? We can write a whole new article going through the many possibilities there, but if one believes in a destined pattern here, then the mystery of the voice also has to be someone extraordinary, in which case, perhaps she’s not even a woman after all?
This takes us to the realm of who the voice could be. Director Fin Manjoo has avoided answering the question, to keep the puzzle open so that audiences can reach their own conclusions based on their own belief system and nature of interpreting such scenarios either through faith, doubt or disbelief. However, Manjoo did hint that when creating the story, while keeping interpretation open, he does have his own predestined ‘knowing’ of who the mysterious woman is, and never provides the audience a straight answer in interviews. Those insiders who created the movie and didn’t receive an answer either, avoid the complication by revealing a simple answer, that they are aware that the mysterious woman at the end of the film was played by director Manjoo’s very own wife, Ivana Neskovic, and that his decision to use her beneath the veil – is telling in itself. Though, somebody had to get into the costume and surely, it doesn’t mean the mysterious character is the actor inside the clothes, the way a spirit fills a body? After all, all the actors in the film, are actors, and who do they represent in reality? Is actor Leandro Taub, Bonifaz?
Saraswati, Mary, Mari
Ivana Neskovic is the most simple answer as a representation of the director’s reality, compared to the most fanciful theories that the mysterious woman could be the Indian goddess Saraswati, the deity of music, after all, could make sense as the mysterious voice speaking to Bonifaz about the secrets of sound, and she is also connected to knowledge, art and wisdom which the composer learns, and all this is very much part of the enlightenment of Bonifaz in the second act. Or, could she be one of the two Mary’s representative of the rise/resurrection of Bonifaz, since we learn later that Bonifaz’s surname is Ascension. Or, is she various other ancient mythic goddesses Mari/May/Maia, the wife of Maju, and representative of the sacred feminine known to many ancient cultures? After all, the film concludes with Bonifaz’s narration as follows, which again could fit each of these theories depending on how you read and interpret the film:
“I feel you. Your soul. Hovering above
the highest mountains of the earth, so that
no man may pull you down, to earth, no man
knew you, but I saw you, in the faces of every
woman, you became one, woman, one Goddess.
Did I leave you? Or you me?
I walked the earth to find myself, and I
found you, myself”
Woodwind was released in the United States and UK on Prime Video last week, and can now be viewed on Amazon worldwide.