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|Index||14 reviews in total|
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.
Many people spring to life when expressing their contempt for Wim Wenders' films, pushing themselves toward new heights of eloquence...and for that reason I usually keep my admiration for him to myself but this movie and the Goalie's Anxiety (not the easiest film to watch) really hit the nail on the head. Incredible portraits of people (in this case men) who have itches that they just can't scratch! In one scene the "hero" listens to the ex-Nazi make some crack about Jesse Owens getting the gold medal and he says,"..so you wouldn't have stood on the platform next to a black man?" and I thought, "I would give anything to see an American movie with a conversation as half as real as this!" You think Wenders is boring? Ok, fine, he's boring. But American movies are phony, like Mcdonald's french fries, they're treated with formaldahyde to maintain their "natural" color.
"Falsche Bewegung," (In the US called "The Wrong Move") is one of the finest films ever produced in Germany and certainly of of film guru Wim Wender's best works. An analysis of the sentiments, both serious and humorous, of the citizens of Post-war Germany, the feelings of guilt, loss, anger, and misdirection is so clearly and frighteningly distributed to the audience it really brings you to thought and to tears. A masterpiece.
This early Wim Wenders film is about a frustrated writer who is
encouraged by his mother to take a train trip to Bonn. On the way he
meets an odd assortment of characters including a former concentration
camp guard who is now a street musician, a mute teenage acrobat, a
semi-famous actress, a hilarious overweight would-be poet, and the
latter's "uncle", a depressed suicidal recluse. The film is rather
talky and philosophical, frequently meditating on the nature of
artistic creation itself. It has kind of morose atmosphere to it like
Wender's later film "Paris, Texas", but without the redemptive ending.
For lack of a better word I would call it existentialist. Like "Paris,
Texas" it's kind of an existentialist road movie except that the
characters travel by train.
The only recognizable actor in this is a young Nastassia Kinski. This isn't nearly as sexy as one of her late 70's/early 80's roles (but like "To the Devil a Daughter" a year later, it's probably sexier than it ought to be). Still, whereas most male directors at the time were mostly interested in undressing Kinski (both on and off screen), Wenders can be credited at least with making her a more respected actress, mostly with her later role in "Paris, Texas", but also to a lesser extent with her debut role in this.
I can see why people find this kind of slow-going and perhaps a little depressing. But I found it quite interesting and actually enjoyed it.
Wim Wenders and writer Peter Handke team up a decade before "Berurin
Tenshi no Uta" Wings of desire (1987)(Ailes du desir) and 4 decades
before The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez (2016) based on Peter's play in
French to premiere at Cannes this month.
It is shorter and simpler than Wings of Desire and it feels as though the whole movie is almost one take, one moment, one long reflection on the same theme of loss and loneliness, perhaps longing and love. It is poetic and philosophical, but also human. It succeeds in asking tough questions and not given easy answers. It understands human complexity and perhaps perplexity facing an uncontrollable, sometimes unsatisfying life.
Momentary solace and camaraderie soon dissolves as things fall apart naturally, casually and necessarily. Much more down to Earth than somehow esoteric Wings of Desire and has a direct impact on the viewer even if often dark and detached beyond the light-hearted and hypnotic beginning.
A interesting find, and perhaps one of the best movies of 1975, winning 6 German Film Awards including a deserving best direction, best screenplay and best cinematography by Robby Müller who shines on various occasion and gives a cohesive visual feel. I will look up Alice in the Cities (1974) and Kings of the Road (1976) to see see if Wender achieved similar success. Let's hope Peter Handke again gives substance to Wim Wenders now that Wenders is tackling 3 fiction films in a row after dedicating a decade and a half to creating captivating documentaries starting with Oscar-nominated Buena Vista Social Club (1999) and even better recent offerings Pina (2011) and The Salt of the Earth (2014).
"The Wrong Move" is essentially a plot less film about loneliness that
follows a late twenty-ish year old, blond German writer-to-be for six
days. He is someone who is in search of something. The film is in
German with English subtitles and is unusual in that there are
occasional first person voice over/commentaries by the principal
character by which we know exactly what he is thinking. The film is set
in the early 70's with a short audio track of American rock that dates
the movie. Through his first person commentary, the writer freely
admits that he is not very good at observing people nor does he like
people, which leads one to wonder what kind of writer is he? Because
"The Wrong Move" is a Wim Wender's film, one inevitably notices the
carefully composed shots with meticulous attention to detail. This
brief odyssey is a more sophisticated version of candid camera in which
the confused writer encounters a handful of people. The film, then, is
about his interactions with these people. These characters appear
randomly, interact, and disperse.
This is probably Nastassja Kinski's first film. If not, then the likelihood of ever watching whatever preceded "The Wrong Move" is close to zero. Long out of print, "The Wrong Move" was only available on scarce, hard to find VHS tape that can be exorbitant in cost, but now is one of eight DVD's in the Wim Wenders Collection Vol 2. It is extremely unfortunate that the DVD has been enhanced for pseudo wide screen, meaning that the original 4:3 image has been chopped, losing some of the image of the original VHS tape. The film was low budget and has attained near cult following among some. Nastassja was a whole thirteen years old when "The Wrong Move" was filmed. This was the first of three films that she has made with Wim Wenders with the other two being: the legendary 1984 "Paris, Texas" and the powerful 1993 "Faraway, So Close." In "The Wrong Move," Nastassja is cast as a mute - meaning that she doesn't speak, has no lines of dialog, and doesn't use anything resembling sign language. Her on screen presence is then all facial expression and body language. In some scenes she looks like a scruffy, scrawny twenty year old.
Other times, she has the face of a twelve year old. Sometimes she is a well made up teenager. Sometimes not. But there are always the tennis shoes and the way that she walks that underscores that she is a very young adolescent girl. In the hands of Wim Wenders, her performance is fluid and natural. She and her much older male companion/guardian make their living with Nastassja as a street performer - one that is not highly skilled and in some respects awkward. That has to do more with her young age, rather than a lack of physical skills. Nastassja is a juggler and not a very good one as she usually drops one of the balls. One time she stands on her head, another time she does cart wheels. Eight years later in "Exposed" this gymnastic talent would be on full display in a very sexy, solo performance in front of an all seeing mirror. There is one particular memorable scene in which the writer and the band of strangers are walking through a neighborhood street, observing the interchanges between residents on the roof top of the buildings. The timing is exquisite, the look on Nastassja's face is memorable - but that is Wim Wenders and is an indication of the potential first rate talent in this thirteen year old girl. It is no accident that Nastassja is in so many scenes and some of those appearances are very brief. Even in nothing scenes in which she is not doing anything out of the ordinary, Nastassja is focused - not sleeping or bored. Peter Sykes, the director of "To the Devil...a Daughter," would later see "The Wrong Move," remember her, and later on in need of a young German actress would hire Nastassja.
It is all to easy to see "The Wrong Move" as a very superficial movie. Even the translation of the title presents a problem. Should it be "Wrong Movement?" "False Movement?" "wrong" and "false" imply that there is a "right" move or that one has strayed from the "right" path and is in search of it. Is there a "right" path? Is there a "wrong" path? What is the path? Does it make a difference? These are the types of questions that go to the core of the human experience. There is depth here, but only for those who can "see" into it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Basically the story of a man who finds that six days of travel doesn't
broaden his mind. Made on a tiny budget, on a very tight four-week
shoot, TWM punches well above its weight. Full of incident and drama,
but none of it is related to anything but the general theme of "life is
sh*t and then you die" - which you soon get used to; and some of it's
actually very funny. A group of six people drift together, then drift
apart. All of them are disenfranchised from politics, society and love,
and the dialogue is typically Pinteresque: long pauses, non-sequiturs
and deep feelings not being expressed, just like real-life dialogue.
Thought-provoking and haunting, beautifully filmed and acted,, TWM is a great "mood movie". You may find it frustrating if you're looking for resolution or even logic, but the observations about life and people in general are as true as you'll get. Woody Allen, eat your heart out.
Rudiger Vogler plays a dull, young man who still lives with his mother. He wishes to be a writer, and his mother gives him a push at it when she kicks him out, forcing him to experience the world on his own. This is kind of an abstract narrative. Vogler drifts along picking up new companions, who then accompany him and chat with him on long walks. It's interesting at first, but, frankly, the talk gets pretty boring after a while and it never really goes anywhere. A visual cue in the very first scene should have tipped me off about what I was getting into: William Faulkner's sophomore novel, Mosquitoes, is propped up in an awkward position against a wall so we're sure to see it. Not many people have read that one, and for good reason: it isn't any good. But it follows a very similar structure, as it's about a group of banal people who talk a lot. The story itself is purportedly based on a Goethe novel. Hanna Schygulla and a very young and adorable Natassja Kinski co-star (I kind of suspected Kinski was extremely young, but she was only 14 when the film premiered and she appears topless in the film, which is quite icky).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The second film in Wim Wenders' so-called "Road Movie Trilogy" (about
as artificial a "trilogy" as the three Ingmar Bergman films arbitrarily
lumped together under that banner), now available on The Criterion
Collection's YouTube channel, Wrong Move (1975) starts off on a
markedly different note than its predecessor, Alice in the Cities
(1974). It becomes clear, in fact, that despite supposedly representing
a trilogy, Wrong Move is a distinctly darker brand of Wenders, less
whimsically surreal. It starts not by Rudiger Vogler singing "Under the
Boardwalk" but by him punching out his windows, which can be taken as a
sign of suicidal tendencies.
The film continues on its dark tone while introducing its surreal elements. It is essentially a story of strangers whose lives randomly collide, and they stick together as a group for a while. The weirdness is soberly found in them discussing their dreams, and in one being a mute street performer. There is more use of blood, with the film evoking the story of a saint in the process. Vogler's character, more of a nihilist than his one in Alice in the Cities, seriously contemplates killing and comes close to it, in a scene rather intense on its first viewing.
Wrong Man is at once a film that shares commonalities with Wenders' other works like Wings of Desire and Alice, but is also worlds apart. In the process, it finds its own unique voice and is a satisfying experience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Falsche Bewegung" or "False Movement" is a German film from slightly
over 40 years ago written and directed by Wim Wenders. The main
character is player by Rüdiger Vogler and just like him there are
several actors and crew members in here that Wenders worked with in
more movies before and after this one. Being a fan of the duo's
collaboration on "Alice in the Cities", I must say I was a bit
disappointed here. In my opinion, Vogler is not really one who can play
aggressive characters very impressively, like for example Brauss in
"Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter". That's why I felt that the
final scene did not appear very realistic.
The atmosphere and tone is similar to other movies by the filmmaker behind this one here. It is the depiction of life in a realistic manner with rarely something happening that is out of the ordinary. And I felt that this film dragged more than other Wenders films. Yes there were also some good moments occasionally and the acting is pretty convincing most of the time too, but as a whole it did not feel sufficient for a film that runs for almost 100 minutes, even if that is certainly among Wenders' shortest full feature films. All in all, I do not recommend the watch or at least not as one of the first choices if you are interested in getting into Wenders' body of work. Check out some of the other films I mentioned in this review here too. As for "Falsche Bewegung", I give it a thumbs-down.
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