Wings of Desire (1987)
Damiel: When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions. Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there? When did time begin, and where does space end? Isn't life under the sun just a dream? Isn't what I see, hear, and smell just the mirage of a world before the world? Does evil actually exist, and are there people who are really evil? How can it be that I, who am I, wasn't before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am?
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] Must I give up now? If I do give up, then mankind will lose its storyteller. And if mankind once loses its storyteller, then it will lose its childhood.
Marion: It must finally become serious. I've often been alone, but I've never lived alone. When I was with someone I was often happy. But the same time, it all seemed a coincidence. These people were my parents. But it could have been others. Why was this brown-eyed boy my brother and not the green-eyed boy on the opposite platform? The taxi driver's daughter was my friend. But I might as well have put my arm round a horse's neck. I was with a man in love and I might as well have left him there and gone off with the stranger I met in the street. Look at me, or don't. Give me your hand, or don't. No. Don't give me the hand, and look away. I think tonight is the new moon. No night more peaceful. No bloodshed in all the city. I've never played with anyone and yet I've never opened my eyes and thought: Now it's serious. At last it's becoming serious. So I've grown older. Was I the only one who wasn't serious? Is it our times that are not serious? I was never lonely neither when I was alone, nor with others. But I would have liked to be alone at last. Loneliness means I'm finally whole. Now I can say it as tonight, I'm at last alone. I must put an end to coincidence. The new moon of decision. I don't know if there's destiny but there's a decision. Decide! We are now the times. Not only the whole town - the whole world is taking part in our decision. We two are now more than us two. We incarnate something. We're representing the people now. And the whole place is full of those who are dreaming the same dream. We are deciding everyone's game. I am ready. Now it's your turn. You hold the game in your hand. Now or never. You need me. You will need me. There's no greater story than ours, that of man and woman. It will be a story of giants... invisible... transposable... a story of new ancestors. Look. My eyes. They are the picture of necessity, of the future of everyone in the place. Last night I dreamt of a stranger... of my man. Only with him could I be alone, open up to him, wholly open, wholly for him. Welcome him wholly into me. Surround him with the labyrinth of shared happiness. I know... it's you.
[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 photographed.
Damiel: It's great to live by the spirit, to testify day by day for eternity, only what's spiritual in people's minds. But sometimes I'm fed up with my spiritual existence. Instead of forever hovering above I'd like to feel a weight grow in me to end the infinity and to tie me to earth. I'd like, at each step, each gust of wind, to be able to say "Now." Now and now" and no longer "forever" and "for eternity." To sit at an empty place at a card table and be greeted, even by a nod. Every time we participated, it was a pretense. Wrestling with one, allowing a hip to be put out in pretense, catching a fish in pretense, in pretense sitting at tables, drinking and eating in pretense. Having lambs roasted and wine served in the tents out there in the desert, only in pretense. No, I don't have to beget a child or plant a tree but it would be rather nice coming home after a long day to feed the cat, like Philip Marlowe, to have a fever and blackended fingers from the newspaper, to be excited not only by the mind but, at last, by a meal, by the line of a neck by an ear. To lie! Through one's teeth. As you're walking, to feel your bones moving along. At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say "ah" and "oh" and "hey" instead of "yea" and "amen."
Cassiel: Yeah, to be able, once in a while, to enthuse for evil. To draw all the demons of the earth from passers-by and to chase them out into the world. To be a savage.
Damiel: Or at last to feel how it is to take off shoes under a table and wriggle your toes barefoot, like that.
Cassiel: Stay alone! Let things happen! Keep serious! We can only be savages in as much as we keep serious. Do no more than look! Assemble, testify, preserve! Remain spirit! Keep your distance. Keep your word.
Peter Falk: Here. To smoke and have coffee - and if you do it together, it's fantastic. Or, to draw. You know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line, and together it's a good line.
Driver: [inner voice] Are there still borders? More than ever! Every street has its borderline. Between each plot, there's a strip of no-man's-land disguised as a hedge or a ditch. Whoever dares, will fall into booby traps or be hit by laser rays. The trout are really torpedoes. Every home owner, or even every tenant nails his name plate on the door, like a coat of arms and studies the morning paper as if he were a world leader. Germany has crumbled into as many small states as there are individuals. And these small states are mobile. Everyone carries his own state with him, and demands a toll when another wants to enter. A fly caught in amber, or a leather bottle. So much for the border. But one can only enter each state with a password. The German soul of today can only be conquered and governed by one who arrives at each small state with the password. Fortunately, no one is currently in a position to do this. So... everyone migrates, and waves his one-man-state flag in all earthly directions. Their children already shake their rattles and drag their filth around them in circles.
Peter Falk: But, you're not here. I'm here. I wish you were here! I wish you could talk to me. 'Cause, I'm a friend. Compañero.
The Dying Man: [thinking to himself while lying on the side of a road after a motorcycle accident] You never saw anyone die? I stink of gasoline. I saw it all clearly - the Mercedes, the pool of oil. Karin, I should have told you. It can't be that simple. I've still so much to do.
Damiel: [Damiel places his hands on the Dying Man's head] As I came up the mountain, out of the misty valley into the sun. The fire on the cattle range, the potatoes in the ashes, the boathouse floating in the lake. The Southern Cross.
The Dying Man: [slowly begins to speak Damiel's thoughts out loud. They speak together at first. Then, Damiel walks away, and only the Dying Man speaks] The Far East. The Great North. The Wild West. The Great Bear Lake. Tristan da Cunha. The Mississippi Delta. Stromboli. The old houses of Charlottenburg. Albert Camus. The morning light. The child's eyes. The swim in the waterfall. The spots of the first drops of rain. The sun. The bread and wine. Hopping. Easter. The veins of leaves. The blowing grass. The color of stones. The pebbles on the stream's bed. The white tablecloth outdoors. The dream of the house in the house. The dear one asleep in the next room. The peaceful Sundays. The horizon. The light from the room in the garden. The night flight. Riding a bicycle with no hands. The beautiful stranger. My father. My mother. My wife. My child.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] What is it about peace that its inspiration is not enduring? Why is its story so hard to tell?
Peter Falk: [inner voice - while sketching an female extra, who is waiting on the set] What a dear face! Interesting. What a nostril. A dramatic nostril. These people are extras. Extra people. Extras are so patient. They just sit. Extras. These humans are extras. Extra humans.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman. With time, those who listened to me became my readers. They no longer sit in a circle, bur rather sit apart. And one doesn't know anything about the other. I'm an old man with a broken voice, but the tale still rises from the depths, and the mouth, slightly opened, repeats it as clearly, as powerfully. A liturgy for which no one needs to be initiated to the meaning of words and sentences.
Marion: [inner voice] Longing. Longing for a wave of love to swell up in me. That's what makes me so clumsy: the lack of pleasure. A desire to love. The desire to love!
Peter Falk: I can't see ya, but I know you're here. I feel it! You've been hangin' around since I got here. I wish I could see your face. Just look into your eyes and tell you how good it is to be here. Just to touch somethin'.
Damiel: First, I'll have a bath. Then I'll be shaved by a Turkish barber who will massage me down to the fingertips. Then I'll buy a newspaper and read it from headlines to horoscope. On the first day, I'll be waited upon... For requests, ask the neighbor. If someone stumbles over my legs, he'll have to apologize. I'll be pushed around, and I'll push back. In the crowded bar, the bartender will find me a table. A service car will stop, and the mayor will take me aboard. I'll be known to everyone, and suspect to no one. I won't say a word, and will understand every language. That will be my first day.
Peter Falk: [inner voice] Yellow star means death. Why did they pick yellow? Sunflowers. Van Gogh killed himself. This drawing stinks. So what? No one sees it. Someday you'll make a good drawing. I hope. I hope. I hope.
Damiel: It happened once... It happened once, and so it will be forever.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] Where are my heroes? Where are you, my children? Where are my own, the dimwitted ones, the primordial ones? Tell me, O Muse, of that poor immortal singer, who, abandoned by his mortal audience, lost his voice. He who went from being the angel of storytelling, became a organ grinder, ignored or mocked, out on the threshold of no-man's land.
[using English subtitles]
Homer, the aged poet: [in German] Tell me of the men, women, and children who will look for me - me, their storyteller, their bard, their choirmaster - because they need me more than anything in the world.
Homer, the aged poet: [in French] We have embarked.
Cassiel: Twenty years ago today a Soviet jet fighter crashed into the lake at Spandau. Fifty years ago -...
Damiel: The Olympic Games!
Cassiel: A Frenchman flew over the city in a hot air balloon 20 years ago.
Damiel: Like those refugees recently.
Cassiel: And today on the Lilienthaler Chaussee, a man slowed down and looked over his shoulder into space. And a man who wanted to end it all today put a different collector's stamp on each farewell letter.
Cassiel: An old man read to a child from "The Odyssey" and the young listener stopped blinking completely. And what do you have to report?
Damiel: A woman in the rain who folded up her umbrella and let herself get drenched. A schoolboy describing to his teacher how a fern grows out of the earth and astonished the teacher. A blind woman who sensed my presence and groped at her watch.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice - as he walks around a wasteland by the Berlin Wall] I can't find Potsdamer Platz. Here? This can't be it. Potsdamer Platz is where the Café Josti used to be. In the afternoon I'd go there to chat and have a coffee and watch the crowd after I'd had my cigar at Löhse and Wolff, a famous tobacconist, right around here. So this can't be Potsdamer Platz.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] Only the Roman roads still lead into the open. Only the most ancient traces lead anywhere. Where is the top of the pass here? Even the plains, even Berlin, has its hidden passes. And it's only there that my country, the land of storytelling, begins. Why doesn't everyone see from earliest childhood the passes, portals and crevices, down on the earth and up in the sky? If everyone saw them, history would continue without killing and war.
Marion: [inner voice] Once again night falls inside my head. Fear. Fear of death. Why not die? Sometimes beauty is the only thing that matters. To look in the mirror is to watch yourself think. So what are you thinking? I think I still have the right to be afraid, but not to talk about it. You haven't gone blind yet. Your heart is still beating. And now you're crying. You'd like to cry like a very sad little girl. Do you know why you're crying? For whom? Not for me. I don't know anymore. I'd like to know. I know nothing.
Marion: [inner voice] I couldn't say who I am. I don't have the slightest idea. I have no roots, no story, no country, and I like it that way. I'm here. I'm free. I can imagine anything. Everything's possible. I only have to lift my eyes and once again I become the world. Now, on this very spot, a feeling of happiness that I could keep forever.
Nick Cave: [singing] From her to eternity! From her to eternity! From her to eternity! Tell me why? Tell me why? I wanna know why. Tell me why?
Peter Falk: [inner voice] Berlin. Emil Jannings. Kennedy. Von Stauffenberg. Helluva guy. That wasn't in Berlin. What difference does it make. It happened.
Peter Falk: [inner voice] Tokyo, Kyoto. Paris. London. Trieste. - - Berlin.
Marion: [inner voice] It's embarrassing to talk about myself, at times like this, like now. Time heals all, but what if time itself is the disease?
Marion: [inner voice] As if pain has no past. All the people I've met who'll live on in my head. It always stops just when it's starting. It was too good to be true. Out in the big city at last, to find out who I am, who I've become. Most of the time, I'm too aware to be sad. I waited an eternity for someone to say a loving word to me. Then I went abroad. Someone who'd say "I love you so much today." That would be wonderful. I look up and the world emerges before my eyes and fills my heart. As a child, I wanted to be on an island. A woman alone, gloriously alone. Yes... that's it. Empty. Incompatible. Emptiness, fear, fear, fear, fear. Like a little animal lost in the woods. Who are you? I don't know anymore. But I do know, I'll never become a trapeze artist. One of those unexpected decisions you hold on to. Don't cry! No way! Crying is out of the question. These things happen. It's just how it is. Things don't always turn out the way you'd like. So empty.
Marion: [inner voice] Don't think about anything. Just be. Berlin. I'm a foreigner here and yet it is so familiar. In any case, you can't get lost. You always end up at the Wall. I wait for my photo at a photo booth, and out comes someone else's face. That could be the beginning of a story. Faces. I'd like to see faces.
Marion: [inner voice] How should I live? Maybe that's not a question. How should I think? I know so little. Maybe because I'm too curious. Often my thoughts are all wrong, because it's like I'm talking to someone else at the same time. Behind closed eyes, close your eyes once more. Then even the stones come alive. To be close to the colors. The colors. Neon lights in the evening sky, the red-and-yellow train. I just need to be ready and every man in the world will look at me.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] The world seems to be sinking into dusk, but I tell my tales, as in the beginning, in my sing-song voice, which sustains me.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] No more roaming back and forth through the centuries as in the past. Now I can only think from one day to the next. My heroes are no longer warriors and kings, but things of peace, one just as good as the next. The drying onions as good as the tree trunk that grows in the marsh. But no one has thus far succeeded in singing an epic of peace.
Peter Falk: So, what is it? Hitler had a double?
Boy: Ya, ya.
Peter Falk: There were two Hitlers?
Peter Falk: Two Hitlers?
Boy: Hitler came from the Innsbourne and he died before he could land at his home in the Alps.
Peter Falk: And Goebbels got an actor to be Hitler?
Boy: Ya, because he doesn't want that anybody knows.
Peter Falk: So, this, let me ask you something. This story, to me, it's not too plausible.
Peter Falk: [Inner voice] "If I didn't have it, I'd miss it," said the General to the whore.
Damiel: I want to transform what my timeless downward look has taught me and learn to bear a harsh sight, a brusque shout, a sour smell. I've been on the outside long enough, absent long enough. I've stood outside the world long enough. I want to enter into the History of the World or even just hold an apple in my hand. Look. See those feathers on the water? Vanished already. See those tire marks on the asphalt and now the cigarette butt rolling along. Look how the prehistoric river has dried up and only today's rain puddles quiver. Enough of the world behind the world!
Marion: [inner voice while dreaming] When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions: Why am I me and why not you? Why am I here and why not there? When did time begin and where does space end? Isn't life under the sun just a dream?
Nick Cave: [inner voice] One more song and it's over. But, I'm not going to tell you about a girl. I'm not going to tell you about a girl.
[outer voice - to the audience]
Nick Cave: I want to tell you about a girl.
Nick Cave: You know, she lives in room 29, Well, that's right on top a mine, I start to cry, I start to cry...
Damiel: [inner voice] Something happened. It's still going on. It binds me. It was true in the night and it's true now during the day. Even more so. Who was who? I was inside her and she was all around me. Who in the world can claim that he was ever truly together with another being? I am together. No mortal child was conceived, only an immortal shared image. I learned to be amazed last night. She came to take me home and I found a home.
Homer, the aged poet: [inner voice] Tell me of the men, women, and children who will look for me - me, their storyteller, their bard, their choirmaster - because they need me more than anything in the world.
Peter Falk: [inner voice] I don't even understand this character. It's amazing how little I know about this part. Maybe we'll discover it during the shoot. Well, I'll get a good costume and that's half the battle.
Woman on Bicycle: [inner voice] At last mad, no longer alone. At last mad, at last redeemed. At last mad, at last at peace. At last a fool. At last an inner light.
Man in Mother's flat: [inner voice] Still smells the same, only dustier. She collected everything. Trading stamps, postcards. Even tickets. She never threw anything away. She just couldn't. Mother - - she never was my mother. My father - - my father was my father. She's dead. No tears, no grief. Maybe later. God, I feel old! My sister's coming. I have to get out of here.
Father in the living room: [inner voice] My God, what will become of that boy? Music's all he's got in his head. No, I can't take this anymore. What more does he want? I already bought him a guitar. Now he wants drums too? That would cost a fortune. I'm getting fed up. Is he ever gonna come to his senses? I've had it. This can't go on. This really has to stop. I can't go along with this anymore.
Mother in the kitchen: [inner voice] No wonder. He only learned rock 'n' roll. Maybe he'll get a grip on himself one day. One can only hope.
Im Zirkus - Marion's Trainer: Marion, not like that! Mon dieu! What's that supposed to be? Less effort, more swing! What are you doing? Don't dangle - fly! You're an angel!
Marion: [dressed as an angel on a flying trapeze] For heaven's sake! Damn it! I can't fly with these things.
Im Zirkus - Marion's Trainer: Yes, you can. It's easier with wings than without.
Marion: Well, not with these chicken feathers!
Marion: [inner voice - after learning the circus is closing early] So, it's over. Not even a season. Once again, no time to really get anywhere. My circus dreams - - just memories ten years from now. Tonight's the last time I'll do my good old number. It's a full moon, too, "and the trapeze artist breaks her neck." Be quiet!
Marion: I never imagined it like this, our farewell to the circus. On the last night no one shows up, you play like fools and I fly around the ring like a dumb chicken. And then I'm a waitress again. Merde.
Marion: [inner voice] Sometimes it's like you have to bend to go on living. To live... one look is enough.
Im Zirkus - Der Schlagzeuger: Marion!
[she doesn't answer]
Im Zirkus - Der Schlagzeuger: Another fallen angel.
[fellow circus performers laugh]
Peter Falk: [inner voice] Interesting drawing problem. This man has eyes like a raccoon; but, he has a good hat.
Peter Falk: [inner voice] I have to buy gifts for my children. Maybe picture frames. Am I a better actor now than I used to be?
Marion: [inner voice] I'll never make it tonight. No trapeze on full moon nights. Not the last time. I have to wake up from this dream. The circus is over. All over.
Damiel: Hey, wait! You wanted to tell me more. I want to know. Everything!
Peter Falk: You need to figure that out for yourself. That's the fun of it.
Marion: Lieutenant, I bet you must know how to find people.
Peter Falk: Well, I know how to look for 'em. I don't always find them. You're looking for somebody?
Marion: I don't know. I just want to find someone.
Peter Falk: Yeah, who? A boy? A girl? A man? A woman? A man. Yes. Well, do you know his name? No. You know where he lives? No.
Marion: I know nothing.
Peter Falk: Nothing, huh. Well, this is a tough case.