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Im Lauf der Zeit
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Reviews & Ratings for
Kings of the Road More at IMDbPro »Im Lauf der Zeit (original title)

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24 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

1:666; everything must change

Author: Daniel Karlsson from Sweden
15 November 2003

A German road movie...if you can call it that, since it plays on a high artistic and intellectual level. Very natural and humane, and above all, beautiful. It's a reflection of life, with substance, a good script and a great sense humor. It might primary be a story about friendship and lost childhood, but it's also about time. Everything must change, nothing can be as it is forever.

The cinematographer and/or camera man have obviously done a more or less perfect work with every scene in the film. Every frame is built on the golden section. I loved it. The black and white photo are also astonishing beautiful in some scenes.

An enjoyable trip through Germany, delightful for the mind as well as for the eyes. Not for the mainstream movie-goer though.


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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful film

Author: ellkew from London
7 July 2002

Watching this film is like having a satisfying meal. You feel completely nourished by the end of it, both mentally and physically. For me this film has many moments in it that drift back to me sometimes during my life. It is a tender story about the friendship developed between two men who are both wandering, both avoiding life yet experiencing things that others miss out on. They are both very free spirits yet bound by something, one by the truck , the other by his past, where he is from. They meet by chance and enjoy their company until they must part. Nothing is forced in the film and the relationship does seem to run a very natural course. A great thing about this film is that there is little dialogue in it and yet it does not impede the story flow. I like so much about this film. I read a book on Wenders a while back and I remember something he said. It was that the sensation of travelling is much more preferable to that of arriving or departing. For me this film is that. It is a feeling. One of my favourite moments is when Robert is in the back of the truck and he stares up at the moon through the skylight in the roof, his face staring at it as though it is the first time he has ever really looked at it. His eyes are open finally. It is extremely moving. A life affirming film that everyone should see. I adore it.

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Communication, identity. A movie with a lot of heart.

Author: Ilpo Hirvonen from Finland
21 February 2010

Im Lauf Der Zeit (Kings of the Road - In the Course of Time) directed by Wim Wenders was his first own production (Wim Wenders Produktion). It's the third film of his road-movie trilogy (1st Alice in den Städten, 2nd False Bewegung) and it summarizes the bottom idea of the two films into a masterpiece. Yesterday I saw Im Lauf Der Zeit for the second time in theaters and loved it even more than the first time. The big screen achieved to maximize the emotion in it and it let the music express the scenes better.

When they started filming this they actually didn't have a ready script. They kept writing the script chronologically while they were filming the movie and I think that's one of the main reasons, which created this amazing atmosphere for Im Lauf Der Zeit. After the film was ready they got a nearly three hour long road-movie film. In spite of the unplanned script writing the movie is full of small details and it is very well written, I wouldn't call it a masterpiece if it wasn't. The story builds around two men and their relationship. Robert Lander (Hanns Zischler), who has just divorced from his wife meets a projection mechanic Bruno Winter (Rüdiger Vogler) who travels from one dead movie theater to other. They decide to travel together and during the journey they see movie theaters falling apart and a modern country that is being americanized day by day.

In the beginning Robert doesn't have a direction for his life, but instead Bruno has, he has got a clear list of theaters' projection equipment to fix. A clear direction for his life. During the journey they learn about life and start to find new things. They realize that if you want to be satisfied with your identity you must get over your past. The journey they travel together feels so natural, there's not a single mistake. This is a movie where you could actually cry. Not because of it's sadness, but because you can actually feel what the characters are feeling, you can almost touch them.

The film, among friendship and society is about the difficulty of communication. You can see this in the minimal dialog in the film. For Robert communication is mostly writing, printing a newspaper with his father. Then for Bruno it is the language, German and English. Wim Wenders also researches man's identity in Im Lauf Der Zeit. When you're in a state where your identity breaks, you become afraid and vulnerable. If you open yourself up to another human being your identity is in danger, the playing-with-the-shadows scene is a good example of this.

All the movie theaters Bruno and Robert visit in Germany are decayed. The theaters have fallen apart or have decided only to show porn-films. Still Wim Wenders gives an optimistic choice to film-industry as it does to its characters "Everything must change." In the beginning we see a man telling about the great times of silent movies and in the end we see a woman pitying the modern cinema and thinking is it worth to even keep theaters up for this. But then we have just seen Im Lauf Der Zeit, which is a great modern film and it's a proof of the fact that there's still hope in cinema.

This is a long film with many layers, which is why people can write so long reviews of it. We could analyze it for days but these are the main themes I wanted to mention from Im Lauf Der Zeit. It's basically about the difficulty of communication, friendship, identity and about the loneliness in us all. Even that the film works on an artistic and intellectual level, I think it will appeal to all the people. Because in addition to it's artistry it manages to be more entertaining than any silly Hollywood comedy.

10/10 Im Lauf Der Zeit as a three-hour long black and white road movie requires empathy, patience and a lot of heart from the viewer.

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A quiet beautiful film. Find a very comfortable seat.

Author: golem from Kansas City, MO USA
5 May 1999

This is one of my all time favorite films. I love to sit back and just watch it go by. Every scene is worthy of a still photograph and there is little dialog to interfere with this quiet journey. Wenders seems to know what it's like to travel simply to escape ones current reality. The two main characters establish a friendship with few words, and seem to know inherently that too much talk would ruin the moment. It is a long film that moves slowly, so be prepared and get comfortable. It reminded me of the feeling I get on a long roadtrip when its just good to be anywhere but home.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

I can still see you Kamikaze.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
26 September 2008

Projection engineer Bruno Winter is pulled up alongside the River Elbe, as he sets about giving himself a shave a Volkswagen drives straight into the river in what seems to be a half hearted suicide attempt. The driver of the Volkswagen is woman troubled Robert, after getting to the river bank he finds Bruno to be a most interesting person, and the pair then set off on a road trip that will shape their respective lives and outlooks considerably.

Shot in 11 weeks between July 1st and October 31st 1975, Im Lauf der Zeit is now considered to be one of the seminal pictures of New German cinema. Director Wim Wenders and his crew set off along the Zonenrandgebiet with only an itinerary set in concrete, working completely without a script, his lead actors, Rudolf Vogler & Hanns Zischler manage to produce one of the most thought provokingly intelligent road movies to have ever been made.

There are many musings on this picture across internet forums, and although the film has very deep meanings, I really feel that it's down to the individual viewer to align themselves personally with our protagonists to get the most from the piece. Wenders clearly had deep feelings for German cinema, and here as the guys move from town to town, on Bruno's projection repair route, the feeling that film in this country is dying is quite palpable. This all ties in with the theme of change that is the core essence in Wenders film, it's not just our characters who need to wake up to the need for change, it's essentially his home country as well.

As the guys move on they meet people, they drink, talk, even fight, and it's all filmed in real time, we are forced to be part of this unlikely friendship, be it washing or shaving, or the act of defecating, it's all humane and sits perfectly as a normal way of life. Come the ending, after nearly three hours of engrossing cinema, we know what has been identified, not just for our two wonderful characters, but for all of us who may be wary of change. The black and white photography from Robby Muller is excellent, and manages to make the various landscapes the guys travel thru an extra character, but ultimately it's just one of a number of things that make Im Lauf der Zeit a truly smart film. My hope is that any newcomers to the film will get as much from it as I did, maybe something different perhaps? But at the very least a recognition that this is a truly wonderful picture. 9/10

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Wim Wenders' best

Author: Kent Lee from United States
17 May 2006

Every American who came of age before reunification of East/West Germany should see this film. It encapsulates a time; a frame of mind. Perhaps its most important feature however, is the way it uses sparse cinematography, and spaces, both literal and figurative, to illustrate the moral and spiritual conditions of the protagonists. There are few films which demonstrate such a mastery of the art of the visual in storytelling. For those interested in the place of film in the broader social context, I'm Lauf Der Zeit provides countless wry observations. At least as important as The Last Picture Show. I am waiting for the definitive authorized DVD with subtitles. By far my favorite Wim Wenders film.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

A journey well worth taking

Author: jandesimpson from United Kingdom
12 September 2002

Wim Wenders's "Kings of the Road" differs from most road movies insofar as it does not quite conform to the conventions of the genre - a setting out, a journey and an arrival. Its two protagonists, Bruno, a cinema equipment maintenance mechanic and Robert, a pediatrician, have already commenced their journeys before the film begins and there is no clearly defined destination at the end. True, their initial encounter marks the beginning of a developing friendship but Wenders does not seem to be particularly interested in where it will take them, rather is it the minutiae of the journey itself that is all important. With a running time of three hours in which very little happens, it would be easy to dismiss the film as self-indulgent. But this would be to miss the point, which is a recreation of the rhythm of everyday life. In the case of Bruno we are aware of every little thing he does. He climbs naked out of his van. Later we watch him shave, and at one point we see him defecating in an open landscape in a middle distance shot held for as long as the act takes. Appropriately there are no such candid camera shots of Robert. He is an altogether more complex and private person. Estranged from his wife, he is clearly on the cusp of suicide when we first meet him. Playing "chicken" by closing his eyes while driving, he ends up in the river. He climbs out of his immobilized vehicle unaided, to be helped on his way by Bruno who is the only witness to the misadventure. The couple barely talk for some time, but a bond of friendship gradually develops between them so that Robert becomes Bruno's companion during his tour of cinemas in small towns on the East/West German border. And that is about all there is to it really. Except that the very feel of the flat landscapes, the river, the open road, level crossings and seedy cinemas takes one over, so that one hardly notices the minutes ticking away. This journey may be of little consequence but Wender's acute eyes and ears for detail make it one well worth taking.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Often bleak, always beautiful

Author: Tom Gooderson-A'Court ( from United Kingdom
9 May 2012

Bruno (Rudiger Vogler) is a Cinema projector repair man who travels from town to town along the West and East German border repairing old cinema projectors. One day while shaving by the side of a road, a man drives his car at high speed into a lake, gets out and walks over to Bruno. Bruno, not knowing what else to do laughs at the man and offers him some clean clothes. The man, Robert (Hanns Zischler) hitchhikes with Bruno from town to town beginning a strange and often uneasy friendship.

The film has several themes which jump out at you and are present throughout. The first is a love of cinema and anger at what has become of the small German cinema. Most of the cinemas that Bruno visits are either badly run, have been turned into porn theatres or are closed altogether. This is director Wim Wenders way of showing viewers what is happening to small cinemas. It is a problem which over thirty years later is still present in my own country. Occasionally Bruno will come across a small, old theatre run by an ex Nazi that is run with care and dedication. A place where old, noisy machines are used by artisan projectionists to show the great classics of the 50s and 60s but generally he deals with people who have no interest in film or it's proper projection. This film is very much a love letter to film.

A second theme is that of loneliness. Both men are incredibly lonely. Robert's half hearted suicide attempt and constant depression is due to his loneliness after his wife has left him while Bruno spends his life on the road, in an old van, with no time for any love or affection from a woman. For large swathes of the film nothing is said but much is learned through glances and slight comments. It isn't until over an hour in that we discover what the characters names are and it is about two days after travelling together that the two men actually reveal their names. Both are used to silent existences. In one telling scene, Robert confronts his father about never being allowed to speak and we gain insight into why he is so silent.

The third and final central theme is the Americanisation of Germany. This is a theme of the entire second half of the twentieth century but obviously something that affected West Germany in a large way. When talking about American music Bruno states that "The Yanks have colonized our subconscious". Although filmed and set in the mid 1970s it is still obvious that the Second World War is in the back of everyone's minds. Bruno lost his father to it, the elderly people were party members and the Americans still have a say in the daily lives of Germans who like Bruno and Robert were possibly not even born in 1945. There is a sense that the men and Germany as a whole have been castrated by American 'imperialism' and that is one of the factors in their introverted and non communicative personalities.

A visual metaphor that Wenders uses is a railway. For much of the film, the men are seen to drive parallel to railways as though to indicate that they are remaining with the status quo and nothing is changing in their lives. In one telling scene, Robert has to cross the line to confront his father and in another he stands very close to it as a train passes, almost as if he is desperate to cross but can't quite manage it. It is as if the line is a barrier between their current selves and what they could be. This is confirmed in the closing scene in which the two men part company.

Shot in black and white the film has the kind of hyper realism of Martin Scorsese's contemporary films. Wim Wenders goes a step further though and is not afraid to show the audience every part of a person's life. In one early scene Bruno is seen parking his van/home near a beach, walking on to the beach, squatting and defecating. The faeces are actually visible leaving his body. The scene is unexpected and shocking but makes you realise that you are seeing every part of this person's life and that nothing is being left out. In later scenes a cinema projectionist is seen to be masturbating, again showing the entire act and Robert is filmed urinating, once again hiding nothing. This hyper realism was unexpected and is responsible for the film's '18' Certificate in the UK. Was it necessary? No. But it let the audience know that nothing was being hidden from them.

The plot itself is very slow and nothing much happens for a long time. It is the lack of communication that drives the tension rather than car chases or explosions etc. You almost want to reach into the film and start a conversation. The film also feels older than it is in part due to the black and white but also because the rural Germany in which the protagonists are driving through feels unchanged from before the war. The landscape of the towns reminded me of rural Slovakia, a country which today feels somewhat more 'backward' and less developed than Germany.

The acting is very realistic and the script also adds to the realism. Wenders' shooting technique is visually arresting but the film is nearly three hours long and feels longer. It's a film that I'm glad I watched and would recommend to hardcore cineaste but a lot of people will find the film boring. I enjoyed it but could have done with an hour less of it.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Get on board the Winter & Lander Express!

Author: bobhartshorn from United Kingdom
7 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Considering the length and weight of his oeuvre, my exposure to the cinema of Wim Wenders is a limited one to say the least. This inexperience stems not from a lack of viewing opportunities, but an apprehension instilled in me after a succession of run-ins with some of his lesser achievements, such as the patience testing 'Until The End Of The World' and 'Faraway, So Close'.

It was with a thick air of trepidation then, that I slipped the German auteur's 1976 opus 'Kings of the Road' into the DVD tray and positioned myself nervously on the couch in preparation for a potential 176 minute assault of self-indulgent monotony. I watched the first hour beneath a cloud of ambivalence as the monochrome images and sparse dialogue crawled by at tortoise speed with any blip of a detectable plot yet to appear on the radar.

The longer it went on however, the more snugly it began to slip under my skin, and the saga of Bruno Winter (Rudiger Vogler) - a truck-driving mechanic travelling across Germany to fix broken down projectors in dusty old picture houses - and Robert Lander (Hanns Zischler) - a depressed hitchhiker with a failed marriage behind him - began to gracefully reel me in from the waters of uncertainty and onto the shores for a warm embrace. At journey's end, my mood was a gleeful mix of satisfaction and gratification: the best part of three hours in these charming men's company had proved very rewarding indeed.

Bruno and Robert's paths cross via the latter's soggy, blackly comic suicide attempt, leading them down the long & winding road of decaying movie theatres, lonely hearts, unforgettable black & white images and a stunning soundtrack. And without really trying too hard, KOTR ends up as a far more worthy lament to the good old days of film-making than anything to be found in the pre-digested pap of 'Cinema Paradiso'.

This is beautifully illustrated both in the prologue (where Bruno bends his ear to an elder statesman bemoaning the passing of cinema's golden age) and a sequence in which our heroes manfully attempt to restore a matinée viewing gone awry whilst silhouetted behind the movie screen of a theatre full of impatient school children. The two men spontaneously burst into a Chaplinesque slapstick routine to the delight of their captive audience and end their performance in a laughing, gasping heap on the floor. They're rudely awakened by a hangman's style noose swinging ominously between them. For better or worse, things will change. A very poignant moment considering today's climate of declining bums-on-seats in the cinema.

Another thing that jumped out at me, were the separate occasions in which Bruno and Robert cast their eyes over the front-page headlines of the daily newspapers; "Terror attack in Jerusalem" and "1 million unemployed" are the type-faces that flash momentarily on the screen, giving both men a firm tap on the shoulder as a reminder of the big-bad-world they've left behind. Blank facial expressions give nothing away as to what either man is thinking and Wenders cuts to the next scene before there's any time to ponder the effects these news stories might have on the decisions concerning their chosen lifestyle. Whatever the case, it resonates loudly with the state of our own current affairs demonstrating at once, that nothing really changes, and what a fascinating, timeless work of art KOTR truly is.

All of these things might sound portentous and heavy handed, but Wenders never forces the issues, takes sides, or labours the point, instead opting for a relaxed narrative where everything unravels in its own time in a hands off, matter-of-fact fashion, leaving us with an elegiac, me-dative affair blessed from top to bottom with great, understated writing and performances.

Fans and critics alike seem to agree that the spare dialogue interaction between the protagonists signifies the difficulty of communication and self-expression that can lead to the breakup of a relationship, resulting in physical violence. This reading of the subtext is certainly not without merit, but as far as the central characters are concerned, I'd have to say I think it's a much lighter movie than that.

Bruno & Robert's nods, smiles and casual shrugs are all part of a silent language and mutual understanding that highlights their free-spiriting nature and genuine feel and affection for each other. There is no need for them to spout endless superlatives re the might of the road, or posture existentially on the magnitude of the landscapes, when they know (more likely than not) that they're both thinking the same thing. Oh sure, they might bicker now and again, endure sadness and have the occasional strop, but so does everyone else on the planet. Everyone else likes to laugh from time to time too, so when the buck finally does stop (after an insipid, mirth-inducing 'punch-up') they go their separate ways with a smile and cheer of goodwill for each other. What could be sweeter than that?

I'm not the first (and will surely not be the last) to say that one could go on longer than the film itself hammering out endless analysis on its incidental delights, sensitivity, craftsmanship etc , so I'll sign off by saying that Wenders' masterful epic will certainly not be for everyone, but was most definitely for me. It's quite possible I'll still be on my guard when it comes to checking out his other titles (although I'm super-keen to see the first two parts of this trilogy – 'Alice in the Cities' & 'The Wrong Move'), but when the mood takes me again, I'll be more than happy to hitch another ride on board The Winter & Lander Express. When it comes to KOTR, Wim Wenders is the REAL 'King of the World'!

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Cinematographic elements impressive and essential

Author: lukerisher from Philadelphia
23 October 2016

Robby Muller is the Cinematographer for the 1976 movie "Kings Of The Road" Robby shows himself as a stylistic and unique film maker. This movie is not only in German, but otherwise very heavily based on emotional concept instead of a hard, concrete story line. The dialogue is a minimum, the shots tell the story, the theme are vague and abstract. At it's core the movie is looking at two characters, one is a projector repairman and the other a depressed man who recently divorced his wife. The two characters meet and travel together and form a relationship as one deal with depression and both simply live as humans. The elements of film and cinematography the Muller used were essential in making this story. In this film one of the most interesting things is the use of cinematic motifs. Similar shots and themes were repeated throughout the film. This created the effect of themes in the story being re enforced and portraying the same theme gave emotional significance to the moment. Because so much of the film is based on non dialogue or explicit story, but more based on emotional elements this way of using similar shots to link emotions to the views understanding of the story was extremely effective. For example one cinematic theme that Muller uses is a specific shot of the truck door with a shaving brush and shaving cream propped on it, when one of the characters opens the door the shaving setup falls. This shot is repeated several times throughout the film and in every scene it's used, it's used to show the characters starting a part of their journey. It's used when they first meet, used when one leave, used when they meet a different character. It's significance is clear as a gateway shot and the view understands this and associates this shots with a new leg of the story. The recurring shots help develop the viewers association build the story which is essential because the story is hard to grasp for the most part. One of the most unique characteristics of the film is the choice to make it black and white. The film was stylized with this black and white effect and also how this black and white effect affected the shadows and other lighting elements as well. The use reinforced the films overall themes of dealing with human depression. The black and white was a cleaner way to expose the humanness of the story. The lack of color was more effective for telling this story dealing with depression. The side effect of the black and white was that it created higher contrast and deeper shadows which made the overall scene more depressing in part. Similarly much of the film was shot at darker times of the day and night. The lighting was either natural or low lit industrial areas. When inside the scene most likely had a signal lamp or light on and the characters were partially lit. When outside the scene was mostly sunlit and the shot was wide, this was used to invoke a different theme of the largeness of the world in contrast with the minuscule characters. The lighting in the film matched the themes and message of the film overall. Through camera work Muller used a collection of three or four shot throughout the majority of the movie. These include a moving medium shot of the character, widescreen full shot of the landscape (especially including the truck), and a close up static shot of a character's face. These shots are recurring and the way they are used and inter-layer shows a lot about the themes of the movie. In a film dealing with human existence and a mixture of human depression and hope the use of the wide shots and the close ups create the big picture view contrasted with intimate human realities. The moving shots show the environment around them. For example because of the lack of dialogue and story line one of the most character developing moments in the film is the projector repairman buying a hot dog and coke and walking back to the van. In the shot choices we see the extreme view of the world, intimate view of the individuals, and the moving shots of how they interact with the world. These shots basically narrate the story more than any other element. Overall the film is very interesting. The film is stripped of many things such as color, dialogue, and an action packed story line, as a result, the cinematography shows through clearly and noticeably. The majority of the storytelling is told through cinematographic elements and Robby Muller utilizes them well to tell a fairly abstract story.

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