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Wings of Desire (1987)

Der Himmel über Berlin (original title)
PG-13 | | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 6 May 1988 (USA)
An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.

Director:

Wim Wenders

Writers:

Wim Wenders (screenplay by), Peter Handke (screenplay by)
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Popularity
4,351 ( 556)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 19 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruno Ganz ... Damiel
Solveig Dommartin ... Marion
Otto Sander ... Cassiel
Curt Bois ... Homer
Peter Falk ... Peter Falk
Hans Martin Stier Hans Martin Stier ... In weiteren Rollen - Der Sterbende
Elmar Wilms Elmar Wilms ... In weiteren Rollen - Ein trauriger Mann
Sigurd Rachman Sigurd Rachman ... In weiteren Rollen - Der Selbstmörder
Beatrice Manowski Beatrice Manowski ... In weiteren Rollen - Das Strichmädchen
Lajos Kovács Lajos Kovács ... Im Zirkus - Marion's Trainer
Bruno Rosaz Bruno Rosaz ... Im Zirkus - Der Clown
Laurent Petitgand Laurent Petitgand ... Im Zirkus - Der Kapellmeister
Chick Ortega Chick Ortega ... Im Zirkus - Der Schlagzeuger (as Chico Rojo Ortega)
Otto Kuhnle Otto Kuhnle ... Im Zirkus - Die Jongleure
Christoph Merg Christoph Merg ... Im Zirkus - Der Jongleure
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Storyline

Visible only to those like them and to human children, Damiel and Cassiel are two angels, who have existed even before humankind. Along with several other angels, they currently wander around West Berlin, generally on their own, observing and preserving life, sometimes trying to provide comfort to the troubled, although those efforts are not always successful. Among those they are currently observing are: the cast and crew of a movie - a detective story set in WWII Nazi Germany - which include a sensitive and perceptive Peter Falk; an elderly man named Homer looking for eternal peace; and the troupe of a financially failing circus, which has closed early for the season because of those financial problems. One day, Damiel tells Cassiel that he wants to become human, to feel not only the sensory aspects of physical beings, but also emotional aspects. He embarks on this thought with the full realization that there is no turning back if he decides to do so. His thoughts are largely ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There are angels on the streets of Berlin.

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #490. See more »

Goofs

When Marion enters her caravan and undresses, the "sun" is shining on her body from east and west at the same time. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[in German, using English subtitles]
Damiel: [voiceover] When the child was a child, it walked with its arms swinging. It wanted the stream to be a river, the river a torrent, and this puddle to be the sea. When the child was a child, it didn't know it was a child. Everything was full of life, and all life was one. When the child was a child, it had no opinion about anything, no habits. It often sat cross-legged, took off running, had a cowlick in its hair, and didn't make faces when ...
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Crazy Credits

Dedicated to all the former angels, but especially to Yasujiro, François and Andrej. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Alanis Morissette: Guardian (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Pas Attendre
by Sprung Aus Den Wolken
See more »

User Reviews

Painfully beautiful -- handle with care
29 December 2003 | by pietro_parodiSee all my reviews

The movie playbill for the American version of the movie (the one you see on the site) is quite misleading: a naked woman in the background with the title "Wings of desire" -- it almost looks as the movie should have some erotic content. But there's nothing here which will try to appeal to your immediate senses. This is a poignantly beautiful metaphysical excursion on what it means to be human. Wim Wenders has recognized the metaphysical nature of the movie by dedicating it to Truffaut, Ozu and especially Tarkovskij. And everything -- the bleakness of the landscape, the ubiquity of the Berlin wall, the anguish in which the characters are immersed -- acquires a deeper meaning when we see it through the eyes of two angels. And the sky over Berlin, with its angels, is the only thing that keeps together two painfully divided sides of the city, and the only perspective from which to see it as one.

But handle with care: if you're looking for a movie with an enthralling plot, a clear language and a reasonable pace, you'll be disappointed. The first time I saw this movie with a friend we laughed all the way. I've seen it more 5-6 times now and I've stopped laughing. I sit there and I'm mesmerized.

The movie was born without a script and it is a melting pot with dialogues by Peter Handke, improvised monologues by the actors, connecting material written by Wim Wenders. In one example, Wenders indulges too long in a scene just because he regrets removing it due to all the work the actress has made for preparing to be a trapezist. This is clearly against all rules and all common sense.

Despite all this the movie works and the reason is, the movie somehow manages to touch deep strings all the way through, because of its beautiful imagery (thanks to director of photography Henri Alekan), its eerie soundtrack, the disorderly collection of truly poetic dialogues/monologues, very inspired acting, and the impredictable combined effect of all this -- surely beyond what was planned by Wim Wenders himself. Should I add that the movie has created its own language for making its point?

The film has also become an incredible documentary on Berlin just before the fall of the wall.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

West Germany | France

Release Date:

6 May 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sky Above Berlin See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,301, 1 May 1988

Gross USA:

$3,333,969

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,404,057
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)| Black and White (partly)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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