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Wings of Desire: The Angels Among Us (2003)


(as JM Kenny)


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Credited cast:
Jürgen Knieper ...
Himself (as Jürgen Kneiper)


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Documentary | Short





Release Date:

1 July 2003 (USA)  »

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(archive footage)|
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This documentary is available in the Special Edition DVD for 'Wings of Desire' (1987). See more »


References Wings of Desire (1987) See more »

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The Angels Among Us (J.M. Kenny, 2003) (V) ***
27 April 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This 43-minute featurette details the unusual production of Wim Wenders' acclaimed WINGS OF DESIRE (1987). I own the Anchor Bay UK R2 DVD, but it's missing this documentary found on MGM's R1 edition (which I rented so that I could check it out). The director (whom I saw at a Press Conference during the 2004 Venice Film Festival for his latest work, LAND OF PLENTY) remembers that, after having lived in the U.S. for 8 years, he wanted to make a renewed acquaintance with Berlin (his favorite city) through a film.

He wasn't quite sure how to go about it, so he approached his frequent screen writing collaborator Peter Handke - who came up with a number of introspective, even poetic monologues but no definite storyline. At one point, Wenders hit upon the idea of having guardian angels for his lead characters and immediately thought of actors Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander for the roles; Damiel (played by Ganz) eventually wishes to become human, having fallen in love with trapeze artiste Solveig Dommartin (then Wenders' girlfriend, she passed away recently!). Eventually, they started shooting without a proper script - but felt that something crucial was still missing: a sense of humor; this was ultimately supplied by American star Peter Falk (in what he himself deemed the most unusual role he ever played, as an ex-angel who advices Damiel in his new 'life').

While I'm sure that Wenders' Audio Commentary (included on both DVDs) - and which I listened to back when I watched the film - touches upon most of the points discussed in the documentary, the latter does provide the opportunity for the other major contributors to have their say: Handke, composer Jurgen Knieper (who, again, had to resort to improvisation), Ganz, Sander, even Falk (who appears to have appreciated the experience). They also pay tribute to the film's renowned cinematographer Henri Alekan (who, at 80, was coerced out of retirement to lend to the film the same kind of ethereal black-and-white quality he had brought to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [1946], which Wenders considers to be the most beautiful ever shot!) and character actor Curt Bois (who appears in the film and had, some years earlier, been the subject of a documentary co-directed by Ganz and Sander!).

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