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Berlin: City in the Movies
Posted February 19, 2010 to photo album "Berlin: City in the Movies"
Scott Macaulay clicks through the various characters this city has played.
Slide 10: Wings of Desire - City of Angels
Perhaps the quintessential post-Cold War film about Berlin is Wim Wender’s 1987 elegiac city symphony Wings of Desire. It’s the story of two angels, trench-coated lost souls, who drift in and out Berliners’ lives as they go about their day-to-day business. The first half of the movie is a deeply melancholic affair, with Henri Alekan’s swooping camera delving into apartments, trams, and the giant Staatsbibliothek library, where angels Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander stroll through the stacks, meditating through Peter Handke’s dialogue on friendship, philosophy, and Germany’s historical meanings. In the second half, the film becomes a story about love, and one angel’s desire to experience it in its corporeal form. Wrote Wenders in his original 1986 treatment for the film, reprinted as part of Criterion’s recent DVD reissue, “The thing I wished for was a film in and about Berlin. A film that might convey something of the history of the city since 1945. A film that might succeed in capturing what I miss in so many films that are set here, something that seems to be so palpably there when you are in Berlin: a feeling in the air and under your fee and in people’s faces that makes life in this city so different from life in other cities…. Of course, I didn’t want to make a film about the place, Berlin. What I wanted to make was a film about people — people where in Berlin — that considered the one perennial question: how to live? And so I have ‘BERLIN’ representing ‘THE WORLD.’ I know of no place with a stronger claim. Berlin is a ‘historical truth.’”