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Wings of Desire (1987)

Der Himmel über Berlin (original title)
PG-13 | | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 6 May 1988 (USA)
An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.

Director:

Writers:

, (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 18 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Homer
...
Hans Martin Stier ...
In weiteren Rollen - Der Sterbende
Elmar Wilms ...
In weiteren Rollen - Ein trauriger Mann
Sigurd Rachman ...
In weiteren Rollen - Der Selbstmörder
Beatrice Manowski ...
In weiteren Rollen - Das Strichmädchen
Lajos Kovács ...
Im Zirkus - Marion's Trainer
Bruno Rosaz ...
Im Zirkus - Der Clown
Laurent Petitgand ...
Im Zirkus - Der Kapellmeister
Chick Ortega ...
Im Zirkus - Der Schlagzeuger (as Chico Rojo Ortega)
Otto Kuhnle ...
Im Zirkus - Die Jongleure
Christoph Merg ...
Im Zirkus - Der Jongleure
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Storyline

Visible only to those like them and to human children, Damiel and Cassiel are two angels, who have existed even before humankind. Along with several other angels, they currently wander around West Berlin, generally on their own, observing and preserving life, sometimes trying to provide comfort to the troubled, although those efforts are not always successful. Among those they are currently observing are: the cast and crew of a movie - a detective story set in WWII Nazi Germany - which include a sensitive and perceptive Peter Falk; an elderly man named Homer looking for eternal peace; and the troupe of a financially failing circus, which has closed early for the season because of those financial problems. One day, Damiel tells Cassiel that he wants to become human, to feel not only the sensory aspects of physical beings, but also emotional aspects. He embarks on this thought with the full realization that there is no turning back if he decides to do so. His thoughts are largely ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

suicide | library | angel | circus | berlin | See All (62) »

Taglines:

There are angels on the streets of Berlin.

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Release Date:

6 May 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sky Above Berlin  »

Box Office

Gross:

$3,806,540 (USA) (18 September 1998)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)| (partly)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the black & white sequences were shot through a one-of-a-kind filter made from a stocking that belonged to cinematographer Henri Alekan's grandmother. See more »

Goofs

When Cassiel is crossing the street, there is a bus coming. You can hear the bus driver let off the accelerator to allow the actor to pass, and then accelerate when he is clear. But the character is an angel, which adults cannot see, yet by the sound of the bus, it is clear that the bus driver sees him. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[in German, using English subtitles]
Damiel: [voiceover] When the child was a child, it walked with its arms swinging. It wanted the stream to be a river, the river a torrent, and this puddle to be the sea. When the child was a child, it didn't know it was a child. Everything was full of life, and all life was one. When the child was a child, it had no opinion about anything, no habits. It often sat cross-legged, took off running, had a cowlick in its hair, and didn't make faces when ...
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Crazy Credits

Dedicated to all the former angels, but especially to Yasujiro, François and Andrej. See more »

Connections

Featured in Whatever Happened to Rock 'n' Roll? (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

When I Go
by Minimal Compact
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
One of the greatest movies of the late 20th century
14 July 2004 | by (North Carolina) – See all my reviews

There are so many comments written about this movie, I almost don't want to write anything - but here I am anyway :)

Though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it disturbs me to read negative comments that WOD is 'too slow' or that Wenders should have been a still life photographer. I think that some people are missing the point of this movie. Wenders filmed this after having been part of the Hollywood machine for several years, and had grown sick of the cookie cutter films that were (and still are) being made in that tradition to produce ticket sales. Yes, this movie doesn't have loads of action and car chase scenes and guns and sex. It does offer some interesting perspectives. The consistent third person view and 'objectification' of the viewer is one aspect. Watching WOD, you don't feel the typical draw into the movie as so often is the case, but rather are a bystander, looking through a window, with your own thoughts and ideas a part of the movie, not the other way around. WOD doesn't allow you to become a subjective part of the film; it 'pushes' you away from empathizing. Even the camera angles and shots motivate this sentiment. The goal and direction of the film are presented without struggle or thought; you know that Damiel wants to be with Marion. He tells Cassiel this, and the only question is - how will he achieve this goal?

WOD belies a sense of traditional film-making. Peter Falk is presented as perhaps the 'idea' of history as fans call out 'Colombo!' The angels are bound to Berlin, existing in a purgatory neither heaven or hell, unable to communicate. The trapeze artist from a traveling circus representing freedom - not only freedom from an everyday lifestyle, but also the key to Damiel's freedom. This movie contains so many interesting ideas and perspectives, that when watched with an open, curious mind, it is fascinating, mesmerizing, calming and inspirational. Filmed entirely in Berlin, the city is not a traditional definition of beautiful. But the industrial, modernist, post WW II reconstructed Berlin is stunning and diverse, providing the perfect background for this modern classic. I cannot recommend this movie enough. But please watch it with open eyes. In the same sense you cannot listen to the music of Schoenberg or Stravinsky as you would Mozart, you cannot watch Wings of Desire as you would a Spielberg movie.


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