WINGS OF DESIRE
DIRECTOR: WIM WENDERS
COUNTRY: GERMANY (1988)
FEATURES: Philosophical movie.
CAST: Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Peter Falk
WRITTEN BY: Playwright PETER HANDKE and Wim Wenders.
I like the work of Wim Wenders. However, it does get a little boring, when you are tired, and the movie is not
picking you up.
IT IS SLOW.
But as a lot of German film makers, Wim Wenders is not a film maker, putting visual images together to tell you
to have fun. Almost all of his films are long treatises on some argument, if not a philosophy. It reminds me of
a Jean Luc Godard film, done in the sixties, where he said at the start that his desire was to make a POLITICAL
film, rather than a film about POLITICS. If this difference makes sense to you, then you will know that what you
are seeing in a Wenders film, is not a film about an ideology, but an ideological film, that ensinuates its
point, and makes sure that you see some good points, and occasionally, a few bad points.
If there is one interesting thing in this film, it is that it was mostly written by PETER HANDKE. Peter's forte
is theatre, and very experimental theatre at that. And being German, it is a thinking man's theatre, with a
very distinct point of view. In working with Handke's material the hardest elements are that he specifies rules
for actors to work with, and some material to be said. In most cases, it is all dependant on the audiences'
reactions and ability to interplay with it. I presume that audiences to this man's special brand of theatre, are
accustomed to his style, and interplay as well as anyone would in a conversation. I presume, that Wim's desire
was to write a film which accomplished on the celluloid cotton, what the experience inside a theatre does. I am
not sure it succeeds, though I admit that I am at a loss trying to tell you what this film is really about.
On one hand, there is the character played by Bruno Ganz, who is an angelic being, that is capable of affecting
people's feelings by his mere presence, even though the person may not know exactly why, or how, it is happening.
If the film is about spirit entities and their influence on human beings, then it is a curious one indeed. If
it is about the human inability to relate to their true feelings and how they come about those feelings, then it
could be a bit boring. The better part of the film, is a walking (moving, anyways) camera which 'reads' people's
thoughts as they happen. Whether it affects the story or not, is a matter for the viewer to decide, which is in
keeping with Peter Handke's plays. But in all, these situations have a tendency to create an internal struggle
of our own, which is that of identifying our very own feelings and ideas, when they happen, something which we
are not always very good at. It also shows how fickle we can be next to our thoughts, that always seem to
desire for anything else that is not on hand, in favor of the greener grass on the other side.
In between many situations, people, animals, the camera invades the private space, and reads all the feelings at
The outcome is a curious exercise in philosophy, and the reason why I quoted Godard. And the writer is taking
down notes on all of this. This is a philosophical film, not a film about some idea related to a philosophy, or
belief system. The story is incidental at that point, as it would take away from the feeling at that special
There are a few interesting things in this film. It shows Berlin as the international capital of the world, and
the cross cultured wonder city that it really is. And the whole opening sequence of the film is one long set of
shots, with a variety of sounds linked to it. We get to 'feel' what this place, and some of its inhabitants are
like. And the thoughts of every one we meet seem to be alive.
As much as I like the film, I still find it ... well ... slow. It seems that it has to make time to allow you to
think as well, before deciding. On a larger screen that may happen easier, because the visual elements will hold
you stronger than on a much smaller home tv.
All in all, it is a film for film students, if not philosophy students.
Please email me with questions and/or comments
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