to look at oneself in the mirror is to see oneself think

After all of these years (in fact, a good number of years since I borrowed this dvd) I have finally watched Wings of Desire. It is an interesting film, two quite distinct parts, each of which are quite good. I imagine that everyone else has seen it, but I will recap anyway. Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander are two angels who wander about Berlin: watching people, listening to their thoughts and taking notes, all while pondering what it would be like to be a physical being. They are invisible to adults so they have free rein in eavesdropping, but children can see them, though children don’t have the kinds of thoughts to hide that adults do.

 

wings of desire

do i fall?

 

The first part at times seems more like a photo montage; beautiful black and white images of Berlin and the people therein. It is like watching a book of pictures with pleasant music in the background and philosophical sayings written on the pages (thanks to subtitles). Person after person cross our field of vision, and we hear the personal thoughts of many of them. In hearing these people think, we hear tales of joy and war, ponderings of suicide and other sad things. There is a lot of reminiscing about the days after the war, accompanied by a good deal of tragic actual footage of the destruction in postwar Germany: ruined buildings and dead folks. Surprisingly, there is a substantial cameo of Peter Falk, which I thought was fun, as I’ve always liked his little charm.

 

wings of desire

der engel weiß jetzt

 

The movie than moves into both color and a more standard movie format, a search for true love and the knowledge of lessons to be learned about life. A lot of it is played out against a Nick Cave concert (another fun cameo). While it is a dramatic change from the first part, it is a nice closing for the film.

 

wings of desire

not from her to eternity

 

All in all, in is a quiet and moving film, viewing the quest for contentment that defines ones day and the importance of the minor details of life. It is also an interesting trip around West Berlin, when the Berlin Wall and the destruction of the war were still quite evident.


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