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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Near the Eastern borders with the 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. However, after a while, the depressed driver, Robert, will instinctively accept an offer for a lift in Bruno's repair van, and just like that, an impromptu relationship will begin in the background of the gloomy German countryside, visiting dilapidated movie theatres for maintenance, one small town after another. No one really knows 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.Written by
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 »
Opening credits provide the aspect ratio and other technical specifications of the film to come. See more »
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
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