The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire (1987) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire (1987)

Filmmaker Wim Wenders presents a Berlin that epitomizes an era.

Sometimes a movie sums up its era in a fashion that later seems inevitable, or maybe filmmaker Wim Wenders somehow just knew his hometown of Berlin was on the verge of transformation, the fall of the Wall less than two years away. Somberly adrift in a city that more than any other manifested the 20th century, wandering a limbo between life and death—where the human spirit is caught in a loop of devastation and endurance—hipster angels in black are stunned by their own helplessness, by how little serenity their touch brings to suicides leaping from heights only angels should know. 

The great German actor Bruno Ganz is the slightly wayward seraph yearning for humanity, for the taste of coffee and his own blood when he hurts himself, but mostly for the acknowledgment if not the arms of the beautiful trapeze artist who dazzles a black-and-white life (shot by Parisian cinematographer Henri Alekan) into color. Wings of Desire is part meditation and elegy, part fairy tale and tone poem—a medley of conflicting emotional timbres including fatalist hush, adult whimsy, and the eternally tragic, all seeming of a piece with the center of gravity nothing less celestial than Ganz’s soulful face.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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