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Six days in the life of Wilhelm: a detached man without qualities. He wants to write, so his mother gives him a ticket to Bonn, telling him to live. On the train he meets an older man, an athlete in the 1936 Olympics, and his mute teen companion, Mignon. She's an acrobat in market squares for spare change. An actress, whom Wilhelm gazes at, joins them. Then, a plump young man introduces himself, having heard them talk of poetry. He takes them to his uncle's, except it's the wrong house; they interrupt a man's suicide. He invites them to stay. The actress tries to connect to Wilhelm. Couplings and rare bursts of feeling come as surprises; other characters remain alone. Written by
less accessible outside of it's historical context
Wenders' road movies of the 70s have a charm that makes them accessible to many viewers, yet are often linked by the less accessible themes of alienation and detachment. It is an interesting dichotomy and one that comes to focus with this film.
Political and cultural pre-determinism are not as easily digested outside the German point of view in the 70s, yet it is a common theme amongst Wenders films as well as (arguably) Herzog & Fassbinder (New German cinema contemporaries) . One does not have to be a philosophy or poli-sci major to enjoy this film however. The fact that Wrong Move is freely based on Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship" is easily overlooked by the casual viewer - but if viewed as an allegorical narrative, like Goethe's work, parts of the film come together and make this obtuse, personal work by Wenders more interesting.
The characters Wilhelm (Rudiger Volger) meets during his trip represent ideological sensibilities of 70s Germany. Mignon played by the teen Nastassja Kinski represents the youth and future of Germany (mute, trusting yet undemanding). Laertes represents the idealism of old Germany, and considers himself a martyr for the Nazi cause. Wilhelm and Therese (Hanna Schygulla) are between these 2 and take action to liberate one from the other. All is told in an un-naturalistic style that only works in some cases. The long (almost single take) walk up the hillside by the river are a good example of where the film shines. The photography by Robby Müller is consistently excellent here.
It's a difficult film but rewarding to those who take time to understand it from it's original historical and ideological context. Worth seeing for the cinematography of Müller and the presence of Hanna Schygulla and Nastassja Kinski.
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