Saturday 7 April 2012

Wings of Desire [1987]

Acclaimed German filmmaker Wim Wenders marked his homecoming of sorts (i.e. return to his country) with this deeply philosophical, spiritual, existentialist and personal meditation on human existence and the ephemeral moments of simple joys and profound sorrows that define one’s life. He made use of magic realism to affectingly portray his thoughts on mortality, loneliness, melancholia and his beloved city of Berlin teeming with people some of whose stories and thoughts he attempted at chronicling, and consequently completely did away with conventional storytelling or narratives in the process. Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are two of many angles the city is populated with. Their presence is not perceptible to humans, and they are incapable of affecting or transforming anyone’s life – their activities comprise of quietly sneaking beside stray people, and silently read their thoughts and observe their mundane existences. Thus, through their eyes and ears, we get acquainted with the lives of a melancholic and talented high-wire artist (Solveig Dommartin) in search for love, a cynical and enormously popular American actor (Peter Falk), a heartbreakingly lonely old man ruminating about the country’s war-ravaged past, among others. The final third of the film, after Damiel crosses the border and becomes a human, felt a bit stretched. But that apart, this modern day fairy tale film, with its graceful B/W photography, terrific vistas of Berlin and its diverse inhabitants, contemplative tone, and some memorable gigs by Cave & the Bad Seeds, was a poignant and engrossing watch.

Director: Wim Wenders
Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Romance/Avant-Garde
Language: German/English/French
Country: Germany


Sam Juliano said...

I am not the huge fan of this film that some are, and it doesn't seem to hold up to re-viewings, but I acknowledge it's fervent reputation with many. I agree with your issue with the final third, and have always felt this film strained to bring all of the pieces of the puzzle. But great piece here on a film that I'll look at again one day.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. I do understand your reservations with this film as admittedly this is a movie that probably has the ability to alienate some viewers while engaging others. I'd be interested to know how it holds up if and when you decide to revisit it.