Wings of Desire (1987) (PG-13)
Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire" is a movie about angels, love, and humanity. It may come across as Malick-ian to some, indeed the narration does resemble the philosopher's work; but Wenders' film is much more about longing and it has a conclusion...something that Malick rarely does.
Beginning in Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, we are introduced to two angels, who for most of the movie, remain nameless. They meander around, flying with the camera, privy to the conversations of the mind, and talk to each other. They observe humans as subjects. They aren't necessarily guardian angels, though they try their best to put men at ease. They aren't ghosts either. In fact, one scene tells us that they existed long before man ever did and the religious connotations of the angels are not here. Just because they're angels, doesn't mean that they are Christian or anti-Christian.
For this reason, "Wings of Desire" should be viewed as more of a science fiction movie than anything else. Though not sci-fi as we have come to know it through works like "Jurassic Park" and "Gattaca"...this is not thriller. No, science fiction in the way that Tarkovsky's "Solaris" was science fiction. This is a drama, an in depth look at a decidedly human non-human-being.
That's the one problem I had with the movie, the angels are capable of such deep emotions and they all reflect human longing. One of the angels (played by Bruno Ganz) wishes to be human when he thinks that he's fallen in love. But these are wishes coming from somehow who longs for more...that's a very human characteristic and some would argue is particular to humans.
History plays a large part of "Wings of Desire". Because of the time period the film is set and where it is based, the angels have glimpses into the past that mainly involve WWII. The angels seem fascinated by some humans more than others, and I don't think it's because they need their help more. No, they are prejudiced and imperfect, but I like that fact.
What is astonishing about the film is the camerawork which manages to float around Berlin on wings, from the point of view of the angels. There are hardly any moments that the camera is still and those moments stretch on for eternity because of the momentum the film had going.
The problems I had with "Paris, Texas" I have again with "Wings of Desires". Wenders is a tremendous artist, but perhaps he feels things different than I do. When he expects me to cry, I get bored...when he wants for me to engage, I disengage.
There is one scene where the main angel is following a young woman, beginning to think that he's fallen in love. She dances while a punk rock band plays on stage. Wenders lets this scene stretch out forever. There is nothing furthering the plot, just some dancing and some walking.
It is a poetic film, I'll give it that; but it also comes across equally as pretentious with simple circus acrobats using the most beautiful language imaginable...I'm not saying it's not possible, but it doesn't feel genuine.
The film is clever though and Peter Falk's appearance gives the movie another side.
All-in-all, it's a beautiful and well-made movie; but I'm not sure I would see it again.
Posted by Micah Jones