A traveling projection-equipment mechanic works in Western Germany along the East-German border, visiting worn-out theatres. He meets with a depressed young man whose marriage has just broken up, and the two decide to travel together.
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German journalist Philip Winter has a case of writer's block when trying to write an article about the United States. He decides to return to Germany, and while trying to book a flight, encounters a German woman and her nine year old daughter Alice doing the same. The three become friends (almost out of necessity) and while the mother asks Winter to mind Alice temporarily, it quickly becomes apparent that Alice will be his responsibility for longer than he expected. After returning to Europe, the innocent friendship between Winter and Alice grows as they travel together through various European cities on a quest for Alice's grandmother.Written by
Karl Engel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is easily one of Wenders' most accessible films of the 70s (along with the American Friend, 1976). Alice in den Stätden was originally released in the states after Paper Moon (Ryan, Tatum O'Neal) premiered and bears a slight resemblance to the story. In the case of Alice, this little girl gets stuck with a reluctant photojournalist and together they cross Germany in search of her grandmother's house. It differs from Wenders' other road movies in that it's plot line actually has some element of suspense to keep the momentum forward.
It's very entertaining for the charm of the characters, especially Yella Rottländer as Alice. She shines here as a very self-possessed, precocious youngster who disrupts the life of the familiar, detached, angst-ridden protagonist, Philip (Rudiger Volger).
There are small details captured in this film that are noteworthy to fans as well as casual viewers. The old organ at Shea Stadium (long since removed) is briefly shown in one early scene . The monorail in Wüppertal is featured in another sequence (one of the first monorails built). There is a lot of urban decay documented in their travels, particularly in the Ruhr district scenes but all of that can't detract from the humor of the 2 lead characters' playful interactions. The shot of Philip and Alice mimicking each other doing calisthenics offsets all the dreariness and alienation in one scene. The optimistic ending is a very satisfying one. This is a beautiful gem of a film if you can find it.
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