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Der Himmel über Berlin
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Reviews & Ratings for
Wings of Desire More at IMDbPro »Der Himmel über Berlin (original title)

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168 out of 189 people found the following review useful:

One of the greatest movies of the late 20th century

10/10
Author: HermesPan from North Carolina
14 July 2004

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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115 out of 129 people found the following review useful:

human life has value

10/10
Author: cindy_bcr from Maine
19 May 2004

In the first scenes after the opening credits, we see an aerial view of Berlin, but this is a Berlin that doesn't exist anymore. It's a city divided, between East and West, that still bears the scars of the second World War, and can't rebuild where the Wall stands in the way. There is a vast vacant lot where the cultural center of pre-war Berlin stood, with the facade of an old station, and nearby stands a bomb-shelter and the tower of a bombed-out church.

It is from this church where an angel stands looking out over the city, and then we see the people going about their daily lives. All this is shot in black and white, and we realize that we are seeing the world through the angel's eyes, seeing the same colorless world and hearing the same thoughts of the people around. As the story goes on, we realize that this is not just one angel in Berlin, for he goes to a car showroom, and compares observations with another angel. Then we go to the library, which is filled with angels.

The first library scene is my favorite scene of the whole movie. It is here where we see many different people studying, and their thoughts reverberate around the space until they are just a murmur, which becomes music. Because there are so few distinct voices, it doesn't matter that they are in German, which I don't understand. However, there was one young man studying the creation story of Genesis in Hebrew, which ties in with a later point where the two lead angels are discussing how they witnessed creation. First they saw the glacier recede, then fish and animals appear. They laughed when they saw the first biped, someone who shared their image, but they stopped laughing when the people learned how to make war.

As idyllic as the angels' lives are, it is through the pain we humans endure that know we are fully alive. And this is what the angels miss, to see colors, to touch, to taste, to smell, the ability to love and affect others' lives. The children can see them, but the adults may at times only feel some vague presence. They lay hands on people's shoulders, to try to understand their feelings beyond mere words. This is illustrated by a scene on a rooftop, where a man is about to commit suicide; as he sits on the ledge, an angel lays a hand on him as if holding him back, and when he jumps, the angel shouts `no!' For these angels are observers, spending their time being a presence among the living, not just to primarily serve as ushers to the afterlife (where I was sorely disappointed after watching "City of Angels," the American re-make). They are not harbingers of doom, but benign symbols of a creator's concern for humans.

Don't be turned off by the fact that it's in black and white, because one thing that really makes an impact is that it's only through viewing as an angel is it in monochrome, because when humans see the world, it's in color. A poem continues throughout the movie and ties everything together, repeating "When the child was a child..." and we realize that humans are the children, the ones younger than angels, just learning and enjoying life. The music adds a lot to the movie, since this film is more visual than verbal, which means that subtitles don't get in the way. I can't say enough about this film–it's wonderful!

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104 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

A Remarkable Achievement

9/10
Author: Tom May (joycean_chap@hotmail.com) from United Kingdom
10 November 1999

A visually beautiful film, which boasts one of the most poetic and literary scripts ever- the dreamlike poetry of the dialogue fits seamlessly in with the overpowering visuals. The acting is of very high callibre too, with Peter Falk adding a very welcome dimension to the film and Bruno Ganz proving a master at acting via expression and nuance. The storyline is nice and simple and is given much additional poignancy and depth by the way Wenders directed, Henri Alekan photographed and the choice of music for certain scenes- the use of Nick Cave's "The Carney" is especially perfect for the scene in which it was used, as was the music during the main scene where we get to see Marion's Trapeze act- the music, visual mastery and the act itself combine to stunningly entrancing effect. That 100 people have given this film a 1/10 mark is almost beyond belief, as it is an absolute joy from start to finish. Rating:- ***** (out of *****)

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105 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

The most emotionally and spiritually moving film of all time

10/10
Author: Jaimzay from Atlanta, GA
30 April 2001

A note to those of you who have only seen the bland, woefully wrong-hearted and half-assed "City of Angels", an unnecessary Americanization of this modern classic: this film leaves Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan in the dust. Co-writer/director Wim Wenders spins a visually stunning tale of angels living in Berlin before the wall came down. As they float through the lives of all they encounter, one of them falls in love with a beautiful and lonely trapeze artist. He soon must choose whether or not it is worth sacrificing the endless grace of being an earth-bound angel to know what it is like to be human, to "see at eye level."

After having seen this film eight times or so, I can safely say that it is my favorite movie of all time. I have to watch it at least once a year and every time I do, I discover a new detail, while still being enchanted by the things that made me love this film in the first place. Although leisurely paced, every scene makes a valuable point about how our lives are touched by divinity every day.

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59 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

lyrical and haunting work of art

Author: brianh-9 from Mississippi, United States
13 June 2004

Two angels named Damiel and Cassiel are onlookers on the lives of people in Berlin. Damiel longs to become human mainly because of a trapeze artist he has become drawn to. Both dote on how the world would look if they could see it with color, feel of things, and breathe air. The angels in Wim Wender's "Wings Of Desire" are separated by the rest of the world and see this world in black and white. They look upon the many sad happenings that occur, how people go about their daily lives. The angels take notes and share lifelong memories of people they have looked upon over the years. They can hear people's thoughts and how they feel about their lives. Damiel is the one the movie focuses on more. Cassiel understands Damiel's desire, but doesn't long for humanity iname way. The film isn't coy about the fact that being an angel could be quite lonely and sort of exasperating. The film's dialogue(mostly thought)from the people across Berlin are more lyrical. It's as if their thoughts are a daily constant of Shakespeare..a long tragedy of loneliness among other emotional longings. The trapeze artist, Marion, is quite a thinker and always feels as if someone has always been their to guide her through the paths of life. Peter Falk(Yep, Columbo)appears as himself playing in a film in Berlin. Many address him as that famous detective. He, like the children, can sense the Angels' presense around him..and there's quite an interesting reason why he can. The film is very pondering and haunting. Life is quite bleak. Berlin is a fascinating setting for a film like this. We often see what history has done to Berlin..the scars show such devastation, yet this brings an element that reaches out to you. We see that life goes on around the ruin..the devastation. The angels have seen that ruin first hand. The film has Cassiel following an old dying Jew. There's a particular scene I love which has the old man walking down ruined streets. He says to himself,"This can't be Potsdamer Platz." He continues to walk and remember the places that use to exist where only ruin reveals. This scene, among so many, define the film's elegant melancholy. The film really is an unforgettable gem. Towards the end, our angel Damiel makes a decision to accept a life as a human. This adds to the film's overall dilemma. I asked myself,"Are we taking things like smelling coffee, touching an apple, or simply watching the rain as it slides from a gutter for granted." The opportunities to exist and live should be appreciated somewhat. What if we are on the otherside of the spectrum? What if we had to look at others living and breathing and smelling? *****/*****

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60 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Our Town for the Cold War Generation

9/10
Author: bejasus from United States
22 February 2005

If my grandchildren ever ask me what it was like back in the Cold War, I'll tell them to watch this movie. It is both frighteningly bleak and lyrically beautiful. It captures the spirit of the times (Western civilization immediately before the fall of the Berlin Wall) better than any movie I've ever seen. And it manages to be a love letter to those times while also showing the place and time in all its inescapable ugliness.

The overall plot moves forward pretty nicely for a movie where plot doesn't seem to matter all that much, and there are some beautiful vignettes, beautifully photographed, acted, and directed. I'm not sure how anyone can make it through the movie without falling in love with Bruno Ganz's angel. I think the movie's lyricism holds up well on multiple viewing -- as long as you liked it the first time. If the self-consciously art-house form bugs you, however, or you find the screenplay's "poetry" to be too facile, you'll probably find this movie grating. I, however, have never seen people reading silently in a public library without thinking of this movie . . . .

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58 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Astonishing

10/10
Author: erik150x from United States
1 May 2004

I just saw this film for the first time. This film is simply amazing. So subtley powerful. The climaxing scene at the bar, is like seeing the world in a grain of sand. There, just now. Did you see it? There it is again. And again, over there. You didn't see it? Watch and you'll see. This film has just made #1 on my favorite films of all time. The way they use Peter Faulk to trancend the boundry between art and life, or perhaps erase the line all together, wonderfully creative. We are guided gently in to a world full of fallen angels, and then brought full circle back home again. This is simply a must see movie. I find it hard to imagine anyone not getting something out of this movie.

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53 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, poetic, stimulating

10/10
Author: haddocky from London, England
2 July 2004

A calm and wonderful fantasy with such a simple vision that makes you want to believe in angels. Perhaps they are there... whenever my mood changes, seemingly unprompted, I always wonder.

Hijacked and debased by people who don't know any better (even U2, I'm afraid, and the American remake must be avoided at all costs - ideally it should be wiped from the record and the memories of all who saw it) this film has become iconic and has infected the imaginations of countless filmmakers. Look carefully and you will see its influence in the most unexpected places.

I always thought that one masterpiece is all that anyone can aspire to in life. Wim Wenders has made several but for me this one stands out above all others. My favourite film.

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44 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

A Poet re-discovers life, love and beauty

9/10
Author: batzi8m1 from Watsonville, California
10 December 2004

It's amazing that any non-German speakers can even appreciate this movie. True the basic story is universal and beautiful, but it's Peter Handke's poetry that makes it breathtaking. Wenders had done other Handke works in film - Alice in the Cities, The Lefthanded Woman, The Goalie's fear of the Penalty- but this one is very different.

This movie is about giving up the ethereal life of the observer and actually living it. Handke had lived as a hermit after his wife's suicide and raised their child alone for 10 years - claiming all he needs of a woman is a good prostitute every so often. This movie script marks his turn to the pure love of life that this dreary Goth never really displayed, even in his youthful writings. It's the wonder of the child within discovering life in all it's beauty -- in even the most mundane and everyday things.

************ PLOT SPOILER ALERT ***********

The job the angels that nobody seems to have noted here is this: They can exist in all times flowing through one spot (Berlin) and must record instances of Humans

expressing "Spirit".

A damned rare thing, it's true, but they must record it whenever they can.

Hollywood chose to leave that notion completely out of that horrible Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan "Vehicle" remake.

(Worth it for the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Mick Harvey's Crime and the City Solution alone)

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53 out of 78 people found the following review useful:

perfection

10/10
Author: damiella (damiella@hotmail.com) from nowhere
25 June 2000

I can never be a film-maker because of Wings of Desire. It is such a stunning work, I know I could never match it, much less exceed it. I have never seen a film that spans such great heights (pardon the pun) of the spiritual, the social, emotional, political and existential. It's the most gorgeous love story I have ever encountered and its anguish and exilaration is unparallel. But enough of the Critic-Speak. This movie shows the loneliness and wonder of being alive and if you remain unmoved by it, you must have no soul.

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