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Twenty year old "Wings"

Posted at 2:39 PM on October 11, 2007 by Euan Kerr

Yes, it's been 20 years since Wim Wenders' meditation on life, love, and Berlin entitled "Wings of Desire" first hit film screens, and won the Best Director Award at Cannes.

Much has changed about the world since then, and particularly in Berlin which reunified after the collapse of the Wall, and has been engaged in an orgy of rebuilding ever since.

Yet "Wings," which follows two angels, Damiel and Cassiel (Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander) who wander the city watching ordinary people and listening to their thoughts, remains a powerful and thought-provoking piece.

It's all the more remarkable because Wenders shot the film with no real script, and just had Ganz and Sander perform monologues written by his friend Peter Handke, who in another city. Much of the film was shot in silence, and the thoughts of the people were only added in post production.

On top of that Wenders felt three weeks into the shooting that something was missing, and so he invited Peter Falk to fly in from America to play himself. When Falk heard there was no script and the film was about angels, he agreed immediately.

From all these disparate elements and others, including having his girlfriend Solveig Dommartin train for two months so she could play a trapeze artist, Wenders assembled a captivating story about the fragility of human experience.

If you haven't seen it, you should make a date.

A side note: Dommartin died suddenly of a heart attack earlier this year at age 45. More to think about when considering "Wings of Desire."

October 2007
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