Wings of Desire

On Sunday, I went with a few other folk to see Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin), Wim Wenders’ 1987 moody film which inspired the apparently insipid Hollywood remake – City of Angels.

The basic story is about a couple of angels who live in Berlin in the late eighties. They seem to exist to quietly observe the human condition from afar and perhaps to console. Having observed the human race for a while, one decides to descend, no doubt inspired by his trapeze-artist love interest whose loneliness fuelled predilection for Nick Cave sees them united at a gig.

I have to say, I don’t know if I really got it in any deep sense of the word. There were certain moments where the characters seem to disconnect from the real world to spout some sort of existential poetic soliloquy which I don’t think had the desired effect on me. They smacked of Alexander Nevsky’s looking into the corner of the room before delivering some pro-Russian Stalinist agenda in Eisenstein’s film of the same name. But then, I really liked that film. At least half of the film is shot in black and white.

If nothing else, it’s worth watching just for the amazing framing of the shots and the graniness of the film. There’s a great moment where the camera moves slowly backward from a view out of a window to a mother and son in a room; at each moment the shot could have been taken as a perfectly composed photograph.
All in all – I really liked it but was left wondering if there was any more to it than I’d taken away. Here are the first five minutes to give you some idea of the atmosphere – though a tiny youtube window hardly does it justice.

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