From Oscar®-nominated* writer/director Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club) comes this "exhilarating" (Vanity Fair) and life-affirming tale that won him the 1987 Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival and inspire... more »d City of Angels. Co-written with Peter Handke, this "enchanting" (The New York Times) film about the joy of life is "that rare thing a work of true originality" (Newsweek)! Damiel (Bruno Ganz) is a lonely angel who roams the streets of Berlin providing comfort to mortals in need. But when he is drawn into the life of a beautifuland troubledtrapeze artist, he experiences love for the first time and does everything in his power to be seen, heard and felt by her. Jeopardizing his divine position, Damiel is faced with a most difficult decision: either give up love or lose his eternal wings forever! *1999: Documentary Feature, Buena Vista Social Club« less
A film that nearly overwhelms me each time I see it
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No movie that I see on a regular basis makes me feel so powerfully the joy of being alive as this one. Although many films and numberless and sappy television shows since 1987 have used angels of one dreadful sort or another, Wim Wenders managed to success while all the others failed. Working from a story by celebrated writer Peter Handke, Wenders takes angels that seem to have more in common with Rilke's Duino Elegies than the Bible or the New Age angels. Their function is to watch and observe and record, and in their own limited fashion, to comfort and commiserate. The trick wasn't to come up with the gimmick of angels being able to listen to the thoughts of humans, but to make those thoughts beautiful and representative of all that is quintessentially human. The trick wasn't to have the angels see in black and white and the humans in color, but in making what was seen, whether two or many toned, beautiful. One has only to see the absolutely appalling CITY OF ANGELS, an English language remake starring Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage, to see that having gimmicks isn't enough; you must have substance as well.This is not a perfect film. There are some dull moments, and I thoroughly dislike a couple of moments in the film, in particular, Dommartin's speech to Bruno Ganz in the bar near the end of the film. But there are so many magnificent moments, so many moments where they not merely get something right, but produce a moment of almost transcendent beauty, that WINGS OF DESIRE provides more than entertainment, but something akin to a reason to live. The movie becomes in the end a celebration of life, of all the tawdry elements that go into being human. The movie ends in affirming nearly as many things as Walt Whitman does in "Song of Myself." I love the cast. Bruno Ganz is perfect as Damiel, the central angel of the story. Likewise, Otto Sander's face is the perfect receptacle for all that he witnesses on his silent rounds through Berlin, while Solveig Dommartin is so sympathetic a character, so lovely, that one could imagine an angel or anyone else yearning to be with her. And Peter Falk turns in a remarkably quirky character role, playing himself on location in Berlin. The city itself emerges as a major actor, providing what is certain to stand as the last great visual representation of Berlin in the last couple of years before the Wall fell. Curt Bois was a veteran character actor who was a staple in Hollywood films in the 1930s and 1940s, playing a vast number of waiters and tailors and hotel clerks (he plays the pickpocket at the very beginning of CASABLANCA). In what would be the last role before his death, Bois appropriately plays "Homer," the ancient man remembering all that had occurred in Berlin in the past several decades, playing the role of human witness to counterbalance the angelic witnesses.This film and UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD, a Wenders film that followed this one in 1991 have to have two of the best soundtracks I have encountered. Subtract either "Six Bells Chime" by Crime and the City Solution or "From Her to Eternity" by Nick Cave, and this would have been far less of a film, and the scene where Solveig Dommartin changes in her trailer while listening to Nick Cave do "The Carny" might be the best scene in the film."
Artistic, Poetic, Sublime!
carol irvin | United States | 07/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll confess that I've had problems in the past getting into some of Wenders' films. Many go too over the deep end on the existential and intellectual elements and result in my ending up feeling alienated. This film, however, leaves one feeling connected to the entire world plus infinity. There is an inspiring romance (in German cinema no less!) between angel turned-to-mortal Bruno Ganz and a beautiful circus performer. Before he becomes a mortal, there are wonderful moments of him and the other angels standing guard over us mortals, listening and watching us. I felt as if I were immersed in an epic poem in those scenes. This film is also beautiful, flowing like a painting and done in a mixture of black & white plus color. There are wonderful acting moments throughout by the entire cast but especially by Bruno Ganz and Peter Falk. I haven't seen Ganz in a role this good since he played the Count in "The Marquise of O" for Fassbinder. I tried watching the American remake of this movie, "City Of Angels" with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan and couldn't bear watching what we (Americans) had done to this Cannes' award winner. Well worth owning, this film can be watched over and over, just like any great piece of art."
The DVD is splendid.
mail | Illinois, USA | 07/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw Wings of Desire in 1988. It is impossible to tell someone what this movie is about. They best way to describe it is to tell that you will learn from it. It shows you what it is to be alive, appreciate life, and to fall in love with the world around you. Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander are gorgeous! They fit very well together. Solveig Dommartin was a joy to watch. Her use of multiple languages to display her thoughts and emotions was very well done. Curt Bois fit into his role 100% and was superb. Peter Falk was a splendid addition to the film and also fit nicely with his use of English and a tiny bit of German. This movie teaches about Cold War Berlin and the wall that divided the city. It teaches you to strive for what you desire in life because you can get it if you really want it. Wim Wenders and Peter Handke were geniuses with fitting all of this together. This movie is totally not Hollywood style. There is no sappy romance or most of the cast getting shot to death in brutal ways. There is no script cast in stone. It pulls at your heart and your mind and never becomes tiresome or boring. It does not tell you step by step the plot. It gives basic ideas and lets you decide in your heart how you will feel the film. Wim Wenders is brilliant! Berlin has changed so much since Wings of Desire was released. Wim Wenders has kind of frozen time and preserved this era of Berlin for us. It does not show Berlin as some beautiful majestic town like a Hollywood film would. It shows how the people are a kind of eclectic group kind of pushed together and pulled apart in this walled off land. Wim Wenders gives a lot of behind the scenes info in the angels among us section of the DVD. Wim Wenders' director's commentary is priceless. He answered questions that have been in my head for the last 15 years. He is very generous with all information and takes a lot of time to explain all. A Hollywood director would never do this! The DVD is like a double feature. The movie (in German) is one part and the film history, historical city data, and personal information (in English) provided by Wim Wenders about Berlin makes a second part.Wings of Desire is a nice film for German students. Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander speak German beautifully and clear. They use every day vocabulary so it gives good practice with sentence construction.Do not bother with the American version City of Angels. Maybe it is easier for us in the U.S. since it is in English but it was a complete waste of film. The American version kills, more like savagely butchers, all the Wings of Desire cast worked so hard for.I would give the DVD 10 stars if I could."
Bertin Ramirez | San Ysidro, California United States | 04/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a one of a kind cinematic experience, it's like nothing you've ever seen. Inspired, poetic, lyrical, mystical, beautiful, touching, all this and more, and yet the description of this movie is hard to put into words. The premise is excellent; the adventures of angels hovering over Berlin. Beautiful black & white and color imagery. The poetic dialogue is profound and beautiful, the whole cast is priceless especially Bruno Ganz and Peter Falk. Expert direction by Wim Wenders. Beautiful movie about angelic romance and has a way of reminding us of what we have and of being more grateful that we are living, it makes you ask yourself questions, and some are mentioned in the film; "Why am I me, and why not you, why am I here and why not there, where does space end and where does time begin. Truly a one of a king movie. From a scale of 1-10 I give this movie a 10!"
A sense of vision in our time
Daniel R. Duncan | San Francisco, CA USA | 09/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film about angels in Berlin before the wall came down. These are angels that Rilke would have understood. Not sentimental like It's a Wonderful Life, and infinitely more intense than it's wannabe remake as City of Angels.Peter Falk plays himself in a way in, well, you have to see the movie to understand, but it is one of his best roles, and I don't want to give away any of the incredibly rich plot. Part of it's charm and intensity are in the conversations between the angels and also how they try to help us on the plane of thoughts and emotions. These angels go everywhere, even to the circus, where some small children even see them and they nod to each other. Oh, yes, and who can ever forget the scene in the library where the angels hover above readers of all ages, listening to their thoughts, wishing for them, it seems....And listening the the thoughts of the young streetwalker, the man about to commit suicide, anohter whose mother has just died, an old poet in the industrial wasteland, observing a certain shift of light in the afternoon....In the midst of these conditions, one angel played by Bruno Gans, falls in love and decides to become human, to become mortal, to become vulnerable in all senses. This and its sequel are two of the great ones of the last twenty five years, maybe in in movie history...."