Comments by Roz Goldberg
There are two keys to solving the mysteries that underlie this complex psychological thriller—thus enabling the viewer to put the pieces together so the film makes sense: First, the content of the mystical tale that Galia is told when she goes to the ZAKA Rescue Organization for information about the bombing; and second, the conversation between Galia and Boaz in the second-to last scene (before the wedding gown scene.)
Let’s take the last of these first: We see Galia riding on a bus; she and Boaz get off at the same stop, and Boaz says: “I’m Boaz, the paramedic, and I think we’re going to the same place. You’re Galia, right? I can’t come to the wedding, so Oren invited me to come by—said it was very important to him.” So they walk together—BUT, they are clearly strangers—not pretending to be strangers. How can that be, you may wonder, after the love scenes we have just witnessed. Good question.
Then, when Oren steps out of the room, Boaz aska Galia: “How did you know that there would be a second explosion on the bus?” “When I pulled you out, you were finished. Then, when you woke up, 7 minutes later, you told me to get Oren out of the bus. You told me something was about to explode in the bus—and as soon as I got him out, something exploded. How did you know?”
We are then shown a flashback where Galia whispers something to Boaz the second she recovers consciousness after being clinically dead for 7 minutes, and Boaz runs into the burning bus and brings Oren out, just as the bus explodes a second time behind him.
Galia says: “I don’t know”. But by that time, we, the audience, do know how she knew the bus was going to explode a second time:
The only possible answer to Boaz’s question is that while she was clinically dead, Galia was given the chance to see what her future would be like if her soul returned to her body—which brings us to the second key, the mystical tale, which I will repeat below:
The Mystical Tale: When Galia goes to ZAKA for information about the bombing, trying to find out the name of the man who saved her life, the man at ZAKA says: “We even prepared a body bag for you. You were clinically dead for 7 minutes, but the paramedic wouldn’t let you go. Apparently, you weren’t ready.” And Galia asks: “What does that mean?”
“They say that when some souls rise to Heaven, they are not ready, they’re not complete—and our Creator gives these souls a chance to observe the life they’ll live if they choose to return.”
Galia asks: “Why live if you know your future?”
The man replies: “NO. A SOUL WHICH CHOOSES TO RETURN, ONLY WHEN THE SOUL AND THE BODY REUNITE, DOES THE SOUL REALIZE EVERYTHING IT HAS EXPERIENCED. AT THAT UNIQUE MOMENT, THE SOUL CAN PERHAPS CHANGE ITS DESTINY.” Ironically, Galia scoffs at this tale, if you recall.
For the purpose of the film, if we accept the mystical tale as true, then all but the last two scenes of the film represent the future that Galia observes during her “seven minutes in Heaven” before her soul and body re-unite. Given the knowledge of the future that she has thus observed, she is able to change her destiny, in that “unique moment” of reuniting her soul and her body. She tells Boaz the bus is going to explode again because, in her vision of the future, Ronen had told her about the second explosion; by telling Boaz about the second explosion when she comes to, she chooses to change the future and save Oren’s life.
(Early in the film, as you may recall, the second person Galia speaks with is Ronen, the Red Magen David employee who no longer works for the agency. It is he who tells her: “I looked at Oren through the window and he looked pretty good, considering the circumstances. But then there was a second explosion that threw shrapnel all over, and one piece caught Oren in the head. I did get him out after that, but we lost him. You were rescued early on by a paramedic who doesn’t work there anymore.”)
Incidentally, I spoke with a Kaballah scholar to find out whether such a mystical tale exists in Jewish mysticism; the answer is “no.”
Another point: in that same next to last scene, when Boaz is telling Galia what happened when she regained consciousness, he says: “You also whispered something in my ear: You said “I love you”. You probably thought I was Oren. Then you said you were sorry.”
Galia says: “I don’t know why.” But a few minutes later she gives him the butterfly necklace, and says very tenderly, ..."Thank you" --and, in the next scene, she certainly does not look happy in her wedding gown. Why?
There are several ways to interpret that. Being a romantic, I believe the answer is this: Even at the precise moment when she chooses to save Oren’s life, Galia knows that, if she doesn’t change the future, she and Boaz will share a great love. That’s why she tells him that she loves him and that she is sorry—sorry that they cannot pursue the great love they have found together. In other words, whether she saves Oren because she knows it is the right thing to do, or because she feels responsible for his being on the bus in the first place, she can’t let Oren die, even though she is by that time-- in the future—much more in love with Boaz than with Oren. I believe that this is why she looks so unhappy in her wedding dress. Does she go downstairs to marry Oren? Or does she tell him that she can’t go through with it? That, I do not know.
For the record, the only time that Galia and Boaz met previously in real time was one year before, at a Purim party. In the next to last scene, Boaz says: “Glad to see you two are ok.” Galia says: You probably have thousands like us—survivors that you have saved.” Then she asks him: “Have we met before, besides the bombing? “ And Boaz says: “Yes, at the Purim party one year ago; I was Dracula. I had a little too much to drink, and I behaved badly.” They laugh.
A few words about some technical aspects of the film:
A. Directing style: Unlike many psychological thrillers, where the audience knows more than the characters—and we want to shout at the screen “Don’t trust that guy” or “It’s a trap; don’t go in the building!”, in “Seven Minutes”, we learn things as Galia does; Givon puts us into Galia’s head—we share her internal state of mind. Here, as Galia peels the onion of her memories, we share that experience. By the way, loss of memory surrounding a traumatic incident, such as a suicide bombing, is not unusual.
B. Meticulous Editing: The editing is amazing, especially in the scene where she is on the bombed-out bus, envisioning what happened to her a year before. The other passengers appear and disappear, and the scenes of past and present switch up and back as she envisions the events of that terrible morning.
C. Dynamic visual style: While on the bombed-out bus, she envisions the fight she had with Oren before they leave to get on the bus before the bombing—did you notice she has no burns? Oren is washing dishes. They argue, and he says: You haven’t accepted the fact that life is deficient.” He then follows her to apologize, getting on the bus with her; we see her sitting with Oren on the bus and watching people get on and off. She notices the suicide bomber and makes a comment to Oren about him as he reaches inside his jacket to set off the bomb—then we see the explosion in slow motion—she is covered in blood.
One of the early shots of the bombed-out bus is through the broken glass of the bus window—with Boaz framed in the background.
At the ‘future” Purim party, the strobe lights create an eerie effect, and Galia envisions blood running down the faces of the party-goers.
Unclaimed property room: The camera focuses on all the items that bus-bombing victims and survivors never came to claim.
Last, but not least, there really is a wreckyard near Jerusalem where bombed-out buses are placed; that’s what prompted Omri Givon to write the story in the first place.
Comments are welcome!