UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD
Director: Wim Wenders
Country: Germany 1990
Actors: Jeanne Moreau, Max Von Sydow, Sam Neill, William Hurt
Super Point: MUSIC and Story
I have never been a great fan of Wim Wenders, but I have started to enjoy his work a bit more with this film. Without any doubt this is his best work to date, and it really stands out as a nice film. I had not planned to see it until I got a call from an old friend, with whom I used to spend every other weekend doing nothing but going to L.A. to see the movies that never got a wider release.
My only complaint about Winders, is that he is slow. And very slow, as if he was admiring something which we were supposed to notice. Both Werner Herzog and Rainer Marie Fassbender are slow film makers, but Herzog's visual style stands out, and Fassbender's dialogue and inter personal intrigues are strong enough to keep you from getting bored. Wenders, either has a problem allowing the actors to speak, or just doesn't have a good feel for the relationship between the background (they are loud and clear) and the foreground, where the actors reside. All in all, this film is the first time where this relationship is still strained, but at least there is a bit more to work with. It struck me that William Hurt spends a lot of time improvising dialogue because there is a sense of disjuncture still, but all in all the film begins slowly and starts picking up, when you finally begin understanding who, what, and where all this is leading to.
The good part of the film is undoubtedly the acting with Solvig Donmartin (who co-wrote the film based on her novel ... unusual casting, but effective), while Max von Sydow as his usual intense self, and making a good show of it; Jeanne Moreau as the blind mother; and Sam Neill as a Dashiel Hammett type detective, that just manages to be everywhere the events are taking place. I can't imagine it easy acting in an environment that appears undecided, though the film comes together nicely.
But the great part of the film is the soundtrack used. If you can imagine the music as another character in the film, it will definitely wake you up. From the start, with Dave Darling's cellos and spacey music weaving its way around, past The Talking Heads, and all the way to the end of the film with U2, the music has a way of describing the feelings of the moment which make it seem a bit poignant, and at times sad, but nevertheless strong. Unlike Werner Herzog, that uses music like a spacy effect that makes you see a third sense of depth in the screen, this at least makes you think about what you are seeing. Herzog lets the music speak next to the visual. Wenders, still has to let a lyric or two explain the thematic contents of the story. There is so much music in this film, and such diverse touches, that it is difficult to clarify it all, but the vignettes do appear a bit brighter when the music is out loud. It also helps the film by connecting it, thus avoiding the difficult task of making sense of all the moments.
The story is about the son of an experimental scientist who has discovered a prototype eye seeing goggle which allows blind people to see. And the son (William Hurt) is going around the world recording events for his mother to see before she dies, and also running away from the political and insane mafia types who wish to get their hands on that machine for economic reasons. Since it takes place in the future, there are a lot of weird and unusual technical gadgets and events happening which keep you wondering what the heck is that, and this, .... as I said, enough to keep you there and not fall asleep. However, the film is over two and one half hours long, and starts out dreadfully slow.
Have coffee ready ... it is a good film.
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