SUMMARY: An isolated inventor attempts to unlock the riddle of how wings are attached to angels but he is consumed by vague obsessions that conflict with his automated world of total control.
WHY IT’S HERE: Craig Welch’s National Film Board of Canada short ‘How Wings Are Attached to the Backs of Angels’ is a dark, elusive creation in which an obsessive inventor attempts to find answers to the unknowable while he longs for an ethereal representation of a woman. That the film is hard to understand seems to be in keeping with its themes of the limits of human understanding and the folly of wasting a life trying to understand that which is beyond us. This could be interpreted as either a sanctification or rejection of religion but the film is unclear on this point also. What is clear is what a beautifully made short this is. The elaborate machines and wide-eyed emaciated protagonist are both eerie and blackly comic and while the apparent lack of philosophical weight here may frustrate, it also acts as a trigger for all manner of discussion. This being the case, Welch may well feel that he achieved his goal.