18 user 31 critic

Kings of the Road (1976)

Im Lauf der Zeit (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | January 1977 (USA)
3:11 | Trailer
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.


Wim Wenders


Wim Wenders (screenplay by)
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview:
Rüdiger Vogler ... Bruno Winter
Hanns Zischler ... Robert Lander
Lisa Kreuzer ... Pauline - Cashier
Rudolf Schündler ... Robert's Father
Marquard Bohm ... Man Who Lost His Wife
Hans Dieter Trayer Hans Dieter Trayer ... Paul - Garage Owner (as Dieter Traier)
Franziska Stömmer Franziska Stömmer ... Cinema Owner
Patric Kreuzer Patric Kreuzer ... Little Boy (as Patrick Kreuzer)


Near the Eastern borders with West Germany, Bruno, a solitary, permanent citizen of the road and film projection equipment repairman, witnesses the sad sight of a VW beetle car storming straight into the River Elbe. After a while, however, the depressed driver, Robert, instinctively accepts an offer for a lift in Bruno's repair van, and just like that, an impromptu relationship begins. Now, against the backdrop of the German countryside, the new companions find themselves sharing the same need for freedom, visiting dilapidated movie theatres for maintenance, and getting to know each other one small town after another. But, no one knows, or cares, how long is the road that stretches out ahead of them. After all, the only thing that matters is one's commitment to a precious ideal. Have the kings of the road found life's true meaning? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


These Men Get Things Rolling... See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film underwent a 4K scan and digital restoration in 2014 through ARRI Film & TV Services Berlin. See more »


The VW beetle driven into the Elbe river is not visible anymore when Robert reaches the waterside. Later after Bruno hands over an espresso to Robert, the beetle is shown as finally sinking. See more »


Robert Lander: What are you writing?
Little Boy: I'm describing a train station. Everything I see.
Robert Lander: And what do you see?
Little Boy: The tracks, the gravel, the timetable, the sky, the clouds. A man with a suitcase. An empty suitcase!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits provide the aspect ratio and other technical specifications of the film to come. See more »


Featured in Century of Cinema: Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »


Sunday Morning After Church
Music by Axel Linstädt
Lyrics by Bernd Linstädt
Performed by Improved Sound Limited
See more »

User Reviews

I can still see you Kamikaze.
26 September 2008 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

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

23 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 18 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



West Germany


German | English

Release Date:

January 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kings of the Road See more »


Box Office


DEM680,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed