Wings of Desire (1987) Poster

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One of the greatest movies of the late 20th century
HermesPan14 July 2004
There are so many comments written about this movie, I almost don't want to write anything - but here I am anyway :)

Though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it disturbs me to read negative comments that WOD is 'too slow' or that Wenders should have been a still life photographer. I think that some people are missing the point of this movie. Wenders filmed this after having been part of the Hollywood machine for several years, and had grown sick of the cookie cutter films that were (and still are) being made in that tradition to produce ticket sales. Yes, this movie doesn't have loads of action and car chase scenes and guns and sex. It does offer some interesting perspectives. The consistent third person view and 'objectification' of the viewer is one aspect. Watching WOD, you don't feel the typical draw into the movie as so often is the case, but rather are a bystander, looking through a window, with your own thoughts and ideas a part of the movie, not the other way around. WOD doesn't allow you to become a subjective part of the film; it 'pushes' you away from empathizing. Even the camera angles and shots motivate this sentiment. The goal and direction of the film are presented without struggle or thought; you know that Damiel wants to be with Marion. He tells Cassiel this, and the only question is - how will he achieve this goal?

WOD belies a sense of traditional film-making. Peter Falk is presented as perhaps the 'idea' of history as fans call out 'Colombo!' The angels are bound to Berlin, existing in a purgatory neither heaven or hell, unable to communicate. The trapeze artist from a traveling circus representing freedom - not only freedom from an everyday lifestyle, but also the key to Damiel's freedom. This movie contains so many interesting ideas and perspectives, that when watched with an open, curious mind, it is fascinating, mesmerizing, calming and inspirational. Filmed entirely in Berlin, the city is not a traditional definition of beautiful. But the industrial, modernist, post WW II reconstructed Berlin is stunning and diverse, providing the perfect background for this modern classic. I cannot recommend this movie enough. But please watch it with open eyes. In the same sense you cannot listen to the music of Schoenberg or Stravinsky as you would Mozart, you cannot watch Wings of Desire as you would a Spielberg movie.
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Our Town for the Cold War Generation
bejasus22 February 2005
If my grandchildren ever ask me what it was like back in the Cold War, I'll tell them to watch this movie. It is both frighteningly bleak and lyrically beautiful. It captures the spirit of the times (Western civilization immediately before the fall of the Berlin Wall) better than any movie I've ever seen. And it manages to be a love letter to those times while also showing the place and time in all its inescapable ugliness.

The overall plot moves forward pretty nicely for a movie where plot doesn't seem to matter all that much, and there are some beautiful vignettes, beautifully photographed, acted, and directed. I'm not sure how anyone can make it through the movie without falling in love with Bruno Ganz's angel. I think the movie's lyricism holds up well on multiple viewing -- as long as you liked it the first time. If the self-consciously art-house form bugs you, however, or you find the screenplay's "poetry" to be too facile, you'll probably find this movie grating. I, however, have never seen people reading silently in a public library without thinking of this movie . . . .
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human life has value
cindy_bcr19 May 2004
In the first scenes after the opening credits, we see an aerial view of Berlin, but this is a Berlin that doesn't exist anymore. It's a city divided, between East and West, that still bears the scars of the second World War, and can't rebuild where the Wall stands in the way. There is a vast vacant lot where the cultural center of pre-war Berlin stood, with the facade of an old station, and nearby stands a bomb-shelter and the tower of a bombed-out church.

It is from this church where an angel stands looking out over the city, and then we see the people going about their daily lives. All this is shot in black and white, and we realize that we are seeing the world through the angel's eyes, seeing the same colorless world and hearing the same thoughts of the people around. As the story goes on, we realize that this is not just one angel in Berlin, for he goes to a car showroom, and compares observations with another angel. Then we go to the library, which is filled with angels.

The first library scene is my favorite scene of the whole movie. It is here where we see many different people studying, and their thoughts reverberate around the space until they are just a murmur, which becomes music. Because there are so few distinct voices, it doesn't matter that they are in German, which I don't understand. However, there was one young man studying the creation story of Genesis in Hebrew, which ties in with a later point where the two lead angels are discussing how they witnessed creation. First they saw the glacier recede, then fish and animals appear. They laughed when they saw the first biped, someone who shared their image, but they stopped laughing when the people learned how to make war.

As idyllic as the angels' lives are, it is through the pain we humans endure that know we are fully alive. And this is what the angels miss, to see colors, to touch, to taste, to smell, the ability to love and affect others' lives. The children can see them, but the adults may at times only feel some vague presence. They lay hands on people's shoulders, to try to understand their feelings beyond mere words. This is illustrated by a scene on a rooftop, where a man is about to commit suicide; as he sits on the ledge, an angel lays a hand on him as if holding him back, and when he jumps, the angel shouts `no!' For these angels are observers, spending their time being a presence among the living, not just to primarily serve as ushers to the afterlife (where I was sorely disappointed after watching "City of Angels," the American re-make). They are not harbingers of doom, but benign symbols of a creator's concern for humans.

Don't be turned off by the fact that it's in black and white, because one thing that really makes an impact is that it's only through viewing as an angel is it in monochrome, because when humans see the world, it's in color. A poem continues throughout the movie and ties everything together, repeating "When the child was a child..." and we realize that humans are the children, the ones younger than angels, just learning and enjoying life. The music adds a lot to the movie, since this film is more visual than verbal, which means that subtitles don't get in the way. I can't say enough about this film–it's wonderful!
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A Remarkable Achievement
Tom May10 November 1999
A visually beautiful film, which boasts one of the most poetic and literary scripts ever- the dreamlike poetry of the dialogue fits seamlessly in with the overpowering visuals. The acting is of very high callibre too, with Peter Falk adding a very welcome dimension to the film and Bruno Ganz proving a master at acting via expression and nuance. The storyline is nice and simple and is given much additional poignancy and depth by the way Wenders directed, Henri Alekan photographed and the choice of music for certain scenes- the use of Nick Cave's "The Carney" is especially perfect for the scene in which it was used, as was the music during the main scene where we get to see Marion's Trapeze act- the music, visual mastery and the act itself combine to stunningly entrancing effect. That 100 people have given this film a 1/10 mark is almost beyond belief, as it is an absolute joy from start to finish. Rating:- ***** (out of *****)
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The most emotionally and spiritually moving film of all time
Jaimzay30 April 2001
A note to those of you who have only seen the bland, woefully wrong-hearted and half-assed "City of Angels", an unnecessary Americanization of this modern classic: this film leaves Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan in the dust. Co-writer/director Wim Wenders spins a visually stunning tale of angels living in Berlin before the wall came down. As they float through the lives of all they encounter, one of them falls in love with a beautiful and lonely trapeze artist. He soon must choose whether or not it is worth sacrificing the endless grace of being an earth-bound angel to know what it is like to be human, to "see at eye level."

After having seen this film eight times or so, I can safely say that it is my favorite movie of all time. I have to watch it at least once a year and every time I do, I discover a new detail, while still being enchanted by the things that made me love this film in the first place. Although leisurely paced, every scene makes a valuable point about how our lives are touched by divinity every day.
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Beautiful, poetic, stimulating
haddocky2 July 2004
A calm and wonderful fantasy with such a simple vision that makes you want to believe in angels. Perhaps they are there... whenever my mood changes, seemingly unprompted, I always wonder.

Hijacked and debased by people who don't know any better (even U2, I'm afraid, and the American remake must be avoided at all costs - ideally it should be wiped from the record and the memories of all who saw it) this film has become iconic and has infected the imaginations of countless filmmakers. Look carefully and you will see its influence in the most unexpected places.

I always thought that one masterpiece is all that anyone can aspire to in life. Wim Wenders has made several but for me this one stands out above all others. My favourite film.
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erik150x1 May 2004
I just saw this film for the first time. This film is simply amazing. So subtley powerful. The climaxing scene at the bar, is like seeing the world in a grain of sand. There, just now. Did you see it? There it is again. And again, over there. You didn't see it? Watch and you'll see. This film has just made #1 on my favorite films of all time. The way they use Peter Faulk to trancend the boundry between art and life, or perhaps erase the line all together, wonderfully creative. We are guided gently in to a world full of fallen angels, and then brought full circle back home again. This is simply a must see movie. I find it hard to imagine anyone not getting something out of this movie.
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A Poet re-discovers life, love and beauty
batzi8m110 December 2004
It's amazing that any non-German speakers can even appreciate this movie. True the basic story is universal and beautiful, but it's Peter Handke's poetry that makes it breathtaking. Wenders had done other Handke works in film - Alice in the Cities, The Lefthanded Woman, The Goalie's fear of the Penalty- but this one is very different.

This movie is about giving up the ethereal life of the observer and actually living it. Handke had lived as a hermit after his wife's suicide and raised their child alone for 10 years - claiming all he needs of a woman is a good prostitute every so often. This movie script marks his turn to the pure love of life that this dreary Goth never really displayed, even in his youthful writings. It's the wonder of the child within discovering life in all it's beauty -- in even the most mundane and everyday things.

************ PLOT SPOILER ALERT ***********

The job the angels that nobody seems to have noted here is this: They can exist in all times flowing through one spot (Berlin) and must record instances of Humans

expressing "Spirit".

A damned rare thing, it's true, but they must record it whenever they can.

Hollywood chose to leave that notion completely out of that horrible Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan "Vehicle" remake.

(Worth it for the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Mick Harvey's Crime and the City Solution alone)
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damiella25 June 2000
I can never be a film-maker because of Wings of Desire. It is such a stunning work, I know I could never match it, much less exceed it. I have never seen a film that spans such great heights (pardon the pun) of the spiritual, the social, emotional, political and existential. It's the most gorgeous love story I have ever encountered and its anguish and exilaration is unparallel. But enough of the Critic-Speak. This movie shows the loneliness and wonder of being alive and if you remain unmoved by it, you must have no soul.
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Philosophical, Beguilingly Poetic and Spiritually Significant
francodelrosario5 May 2006
Digging deep into the thoughts and dreams of mortals and the angels who look after them, WINGS OF DESIRE is a masterfully-made work of art and Germany's finest. It matches lavish cinematography, flawless direction by Wim Winders, impressive performances and a simple plot told with such brilliance, symbolism and will.

The first half of the film resembles more like a beautifully-painted mosaic or an avant-garde film showing empathy for every character brought about by the screen even showing traces of the Nazism era. Here, the idea of supernatural beings that indirectly assist humans in day-to-day life is introduced. The mystifying beings are unseen to everyone except to the young-at-heart. Hovering atop statues or wandering inside public libraries or apartments, they see and know everything as Winders etches the black-and-white world of the angels. The story evolves when one angel Damiel (Bruno Ganz) wonders what it is like to be human, how it is like to be able to feel, to hold or to be seen. Once he comes to the aid of attractive trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin), he feels a spiritual devotion he has never felt before.

Winders' slow-but-steady rate gives time for the viewer to contemplate on the questions a child asks ("Why am I me and why not you? Why am I here and not there? When did time begin and where did space end?"). He allows the audience members think what they want to think in a new light instead of manipulating them. The scenario of a ghostly being falling for a human may seem overworked now (GHOST, JUST LIKE HEAVEN) but WINGS OF DESIRE is a fresh, innovative piece of cinema with remarkable photography and unbelievable performances. Henry Alekan's cinematography is both insightful and visually dazzling. Every camera angle takes on a new connotation. Ganz and Dommartin are equally irresistible as two different "people", who worlds apart from each other; both characters are looking for love, no matter how close Damien is from Marion. Peter Falk, playing himself, is an amusing attribute to the cast being "Columbo" in the popular TV show. Being a mysterious character himself, he metaphorically adds a little color to the film amidst all the spellbinding drama and discloses an entertaining revelation that helps the film progress.

This revolutionary masterpiece of craftsmanship is considered by many as the greatest non-US movie ever and it deserves all of its praise entirely. WINGS OF DESIRE breaks new ground in romantic and dramatic film making. Every scene in this movie offers a chance for hope, understanding and compassion. Unbearably creative, outstanding and poignant, this superbly-made motion picture is not another art-house flick. Astounding.

WINGS OF DESIRE was remade in Hollywood as the sleek yet disappointing CITY OF ANGELS(1997).
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Painfully beautiful -- handle with care
pietro_parodi29 December 2003
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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Never really takes flight
miss_lady_ice-853-6087007 December 2010
Many reviewers here fawn over this film and dismiss anyone who does not share their worship as being juvenile or a philistine. I've watched enough films to know whether a film is truly profound or whether it is pretentious. Wings of Desire sways towards the latter.

It has a great premise- angels (not winged creatures but men in cool black coats, similar to the portrayal of the dead in Orphee) watch over late eighties Berlin, observing the humans they see around them. One angel (Bruno Ganz) falls in love with a mortal trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin). You would think that this would be a winning formula and therefore a brilliant film. I was disappointed to find out that although it may not be a bad film, it is by no means a brilliant one.

The cinematography is great, although the monochrome angels and technicolour humans had already been done 40 years previously. We get some great shots of urban Berlin, which gives the film an interesting cultural context. It almost acts as a time capsule, and had Wenders concentrated on this aspect of the film, the film would not seem as unfocused and vague as it does.

The worst part of the film is the dialogue, which is pseudo-philosophical naval gazing. I don't mind introspective dialogue but when every sentence is some vague existential musing, I tend to tune out, which is fatal for this film as the action is essentially in their internal monologues. The trapeze artist's final monologue could have worked had the whole film not been composed in that way but the monologue is basically a repetition of what has been constantly repeated throughout the film. Some arty types might forgive this because they see it as some universal truth but for most, it is simply repetitive to the point at which it becomes meaningless.

I forgot the love story! Seems that Wenders did that too because it only makes an appearance in the last half-hour or so of the film, although there were tiny hints earlier on. Because the romance is so unprominent for most of the film, when it finally comes to it, you wonder why the film was two hours long and not one hour. Apart from the misjudged monologue by the trapeze artist, it is quite a romantic scene. Her dress is stunning.

Potentially a great thought-provoking film but self-indulgence on the director's/writers' part causes the film to feel unfocused and vague. The film tries to deny its artificiality by adding in lots of 'profound' dialogue but there are many points in the film where it comes off as very superficial. It's a bit like a New Romantic pop video.
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intellectual dribble
steve-g-m5 December 2006
I have seen 244 of the IMDb top 250 movies, and this is without a doubt the worst of the list. Utterly boring and ridiculously silly. Should have been a short art-house movie of some sort - 20 minutes max.

Oh, and the cinematography was incredibly annoying. Almost all of the movie was shot in a hazy brown and white, with an irritating angle lens that made everything seem distorted. The dialog was an attempt at intellectualism that got old after about 5 minutes. The acting... well, let's just say these weren't the most challenging roles to perform, with the main actors playing either robot-like angels or themselves (Peter Falk).

Take my advice and don't waste your time on this one.
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wavestar10 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Amazing! To be honest i was really really sleepy coming into class today and when i found out that we couldn't watch it in the preview theatre, i thought to myself, "Great, time to sleep". Plus when i heard that the horrible "City Of Angels" is a remake of this film, i felt that i was in store for more of "City Of Angels"' type of love, angel-ish crap.

I'm glad that i was totally wrong. Never doubt a film until you've watched it for yourself.

Wings Of Desire is a thought-provoking movie. The type that makes you stop in your normal, day-to-day routine and think of the things we rarely pause to think about. For example, the poem at the start of the film where it begins with "When a child is a child" part; i felt that it made me think about how we were the most curious when we were very young. How innocent that age was and how idyllic it would be to stay that age. Alas we all grow up. Some turn out alright. Some turn out to become Hitler.

Which brings me to the point of how this film really seems to be a commentary of Berlin and perhaps, post-World War II Germany in particular. There is a scene whereby the 2 angels are in a care and they are exchanging notes about the time of sunset and sunrise as well as what happened 10 years on that exact day. Then Cassiel is about to talk about what had happened 50 years ago, during the World War II, when Damiel cuts in and motions him to move on. It is as if Damiel is the voice of Germany and he is too ashamed to talk about the past. In fact it is suffice to say that all those flashbacks of WWII is to show the horrors that Germany had seen and endured throughout the years.

As for the how the story is shaped. I agree that it is similar to Italian Neorealism or French New Wave due to the fact that the story lacked a strong goal. Again we can say that we cannot really tell what is going to happen from one scene to the next. And while one may feel that the less-than-normal structure is too complicated. I feel that it is good that we can watch and then try to understand the many layers of storyline that is within this film. To me, it sure beats watching that dumb "City of Angels".

If there is a scene that stood out the most, i believe that the library scene is the most powerful one of all. First of all, the camera movement was breathtaking. It would dolly from one side of the second floor and then using a wire overhead, it would go to the other side. This gives us a sort of floating feel. And although one may argue that it is part of a distanciation effect. I would feel that the main purpose that Wim Wenders did that is to give us a feeling of how the angels would move around. They could walk like normal human beings but if need be, they could float as well. And then there was the thoughts that emanated from all over the library. One thought would echo and then another. In the end all of the murmurs would drown each other, as if to show the hundreds of thoughts that go on in the library. Simply said, this scene is magical.

This film has so many layers one would feel that it would not be boring to watch it more than just one time so that all the layers are uncovered one by one. Yep, better than Citizen Kane. Wings Of Desire ist nummer ein!
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Pure horror
LapinKulta25 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Before I begin, allow me to say that I am not some blockbuster-movie junkie who only watches action movies with a lot of special effects, where the main character beats all his enemies, manages to win one million bucks and a beautiful lady by the end of the movie. I am no stranger to long and slow-paced movies. My favorite directors include Andrej Tarkovski, Luis Bunuel, Aki Kaurismaki, to name a few.

But "Der Himmel über Berlin" is a pure horror. As you probably learned by now, the movie is about two angels wandering the streets of Berlin and listening to people's thoughts. This is amusing for few minutes, all right, but goes on for more than 90 minutes. And the thoughts the angels are listening to are pointless, hold no message whatsoever. One of the angels falls in love with a mortal woman and wants to become a mortal himself and spend a life with her. Clearly, the main message of the movie is: spiritual love alone can not fully satisfy even an angel.

In a desperate effort to add a dramatic character to this movie, director places it in Berlin; a city torn in two pieces with the wall and city which suffered great destruction and tragedy by the end of WWII. OK, the history of Berlin and Berliners is dramatic, but it should not be present in this movie, where central point is supposed to be the internal conflict in one of the angels, caused by feelings toward a mortal woman. To my mind, placing this movie in Berlin only proves that director was aware that his main story is to weak on its own.

I really had to put a big effort to last through this movie. But I said to myself: "Don't give up, wait and see what will happen when the angel finally becomes mortal and meets the love for which he gave his eternity. But even that was pathetic. He met her 8 (eight) minutes before the movie ended, and it was one of the most pathetic and naive love scenes ever filmed.

The only good point in the movie are the main actress' legs. That is the reason why I give this movie two stars: one for each of her legs.

Wings of desire leaves certainly a lot to be desired for.
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A movie that addresses German before the Berlin wall fell.
emma5027 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Following the Second World War the continent of Europe was divided not only by political beliefs and economic strife but the continent was also physically divided by a wall that was constructed through Berlin. This wall built by the satellite communist countries under the orders and pressure of Moscow to keep the ideals of the capitalist west out of their city and the minds of their people. The wall was to instate this `out of sight, out of mind' mentality in to the hearts of the people that the communist were trying so hard to control as their system was failing in the post war world economy. The wall remained intact until 1989, but during this time period a dramatic era of film was created that begged the main questions of the time: Where do I belong? What country do I call my own? Do I turn to others?

Wings of Desire uses the idea of an omnipotent force that watches over the world from the beginning of time and records the actions and thoughts of man, a creature that amazes and bewilders them. This force of angles know the world and mans mannerisms through and through but yet does not truly know the extent to what man experiences and feels in everyday life. To show a stark contrast between the living world and the angles, the angels are portrayed in black. This same black and white footage is used to show East Berlin as a collection of persons who are not really living life either. They are instead people acting out the basic image of what modern life should be. As the main angle falls in love with a French circus tumbler her image switches between black and white ( as she discovers the clam feeling he brings her) to one of vibrant color after he falls from `grace.' The West side of Berlin is also shown in this collage of vibrant color as he discovers this grand new existence that he was missing.

The main angle also has several interactions with an American film and TV star Peter Falk (Colombo) for the actor senses the presence of the angle. He entices the angle to give up what he has and come to earth by being one of the first actual persons to talk directly to him. The audience later is presented with Peter Falk being a previous angle that fell from `grace.' He represents temptation of what can be found when one crosses from one life path to the next. This idea is also the pressing idea of crossing from the East Berlin side to the West, of crossing from a world that is limited and controlled to one where there is unending possibility. Where man can discover all that he wants to know on his own, for it not to be feed to him.

Through voice-overs, where the character does not participate in the common dialog that a script would have, the audience experiences life in this torn city through the thoughts and feelings of the people that live there. The voice-overs continually address the complex and intriguing questions that all persons could not audibly ask, for no one knew the real answer. The difficult questions of longing, unplanned futures, anxiety filled the hearts and minds of people all over the world but the people of Berlin embodied them. `History is ours, and the people make it' ( Salvador Allende 1973) is a fitting quote for the people of Berlin as they were the leaders of the world as the guided and survived such a torturous time. Wings of Desire is a film that leads the audience on a narrative that is gripping and induces thought and discussion of the world's social issues.
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This movie is one of the most tedious movies ever made
avlamcjlam2 July 2002
Watching this movie makes one understand why some people dislike "art films." It is a series of unending scenes of streaming introspection. Lines like "I do not know very much. Maybe it is because I am too curious?" sum up the movie. I did like the cinematography and Bruno Ganz has a great face.
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The perfect fusion between literature and cinema
Carlos Mesa2 December 1998
really, this film is my favorite movie... his slow rhythm is perfect and the lyrism of photography... beautiful words... excellent!! I just say about this movie:I'm still think in this movie, almost 20 years later... and the images never well be erased of my mind... I see the movie seven times during this time and now (in the actual international context) the content is unbelieved, actual and powerful... If the literature is a beautiful vehicle to human expression and the cinema is the best way to show oniric dreams and conflicts of the human beans... nothing better this film Bruno Ganz is really an angel? Peter Falk too? Wenders do it possible in the film, because the ambiance y the history going together ...flowing in harmony... (sorry for my English :)
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A masterpiece
mehdimarechal29 March 2007
When judging a film, I use different criteria: The story, the acting, the soundtrack, the cinematography,... Only in exceptional cases I find films that score high on all criteria, and this is the case with this absolutely brilliant film. The story is most original and refreshing: the metaphysical tale of the angels is a great way of confronting the viewer with the universal aspirations and dreams of mankind in a way that it remains simple and direct. The acting by Bruno Ganz (Der Amerikanische freund, l'éternité et un jour, Der untergang) is as usual terrific, and the role of Peter Falk is most amusing. The last scene of the film, with Nick Cave singing in the back, is just awesome, especially the final monologue. The nice soundtrack accompanies images of a rare beauty. The black-and-white shots of Berlin keep hanging around in your mind for days, this is actually one of the films were the cinematography is so terrific that you could print posters of every single screen shot. What can I say more: Wim Wenders is a genius, and this is art in it's purest form! Philosophy, poetry and film blended together in a unique and ever-lasting masterpiece!
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Completely Unique and Fascinating
scotty-3728 January 2006
Der Himmel uber Berlin has unsurpassed moments of poetry and clarity. It also demands a lot of attention and patience on the part of the viewer. Even after seeing it a number of times I find new, interesting and moving things in the movie.

Some vignettes from the movie astound me as I see inside someone's experience or see things freshly through them. The framing poem by Peter Handke gives meaning to the whole movie. It's one of the things that I respond to most strongly.

There are very minor choices in movie that I think could have been made differently, but at the same time they do not significantly detract from my enjoyment. Wim Wenders gives a lot of screen time to Solveig Dommartin as she works the trapeze and thinks to herself in her trailer. She certainly needs time to get audience's sympathy and attention among all the other characters, but some of her screen time seems a little indulgent. Also, some short glimpses into people's lives are not as effective as others--especially the later more non-specific "noise of humanity" sequences. The noise of humanity is well established in the library scenes and other sequences towards the first of the movie and the later less concrete vignettes do less for me than the earlier ones.

The movie is more of a visual and auditory poem than a traditional plot-driven movie. Plots do exist, but they are not relentlessly forwarded by everything shown on screen. You'll do a lot of people watching and find both grimness and despair as well as joy and beauty. It's a movie about experience, humanity, and both the joy and the pain of life. If you view it receptively, there are many entire worlds within the movie that you'll be able to enter momentarily and perhaps get a better view of your own world.

Watch this movie. It can be an amazing experience. You will need energy to pay attention, patience with the pacing, and a willingness to deal with some confusing aspects of the movie. If you don't have these things it might be better to come back to the movie at some other time when you feel more receptive. It is well worth the payoff, though.
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One of the lamest movies in existence
gugaevileye199019 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Seriously, a man should be deemed crazy and out of his mind for even being able to watch this movie without squinting out of boredom. The movie depicts the life of angel who falls in love with a mortal woman. You get to hear their thoughts. Actually, that's all you get to hear throughout the whole movie - some guy muttering and mumbling something in a philosophical manner; it could actually have been interesting if it hadn't resembled Nitsche's words all the time. Nonetheless, kudos to the director for his superb use of the camera; I've never seen a single shot last so long. Seriously, sometimes I felt like like the operator was asleep during the filming or something. Did I note the gorgeous actors that vivaciously portrayed the characters in the film? Like, even my guinea-pig could have shown more emotions. And he's dead. So yeah. If you really hate someone, then buy them this movie for their birthday. Nothing worse than that.
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Das Schiess
the_mad_mckenna28 September 2002
There are only two movies that I've ever had highly recommended by others which were so dreadful as wonder whether my friends were in fact abducted by aliens and replaced with identical replicas with poor taste. the first example would be the dreadful "Meet the Parents"; the second, "Wings of Desire".

Talk about a film of existentialist navel contemplation, and you've got it with "Wings". I'm not sure how the film turned out - it was so over the top laughable in its hokey greeting card sentiment that I couldnt finish watching it; actually, my girlfriend at the time did the mercy killing.

Hey, I love movies where the foibles of humanity and life are considered and ruminated over, from "2001" to "The thin red line". But folks, this movie is like the guy you know who lies to girls and tells them they are pretty when they aren't: if you see through his maudlin sentiment, you're left wincing. If you don't you think he's the sweetest guy alive. "Wings of Desire" is that guy in celluloid form.
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Pointless, Plot less, Pretentious
kenjha21 June 2008
A couple of angels wander around Berlin listening to the thoughts of ordinary people. It turns out most people engage in profound, existential thoughts all day long rather than thinking about things like work or what to have for dinner. Listening to random thoughts is somewhat interesting for a while but then comes the frightening realization that the whole film is just that...listening to the thoughts of one person after another after another...and no one thinks about anything even remotely amusing. Most of it is filmed in black and white, randomly becoming color now and then. This self-indulgent nonsense is unbelievably boring. And what is Columbo doing here?
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One of the most beautiful films ever made
tomgillespie200229 August 2011
In West Berlin, still surrounded by the Berlin Wall, angels Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) spend their time observing human life and comforting those in need of it. They compare their observations, and marvel at the joys, quirks and special moments that are experienced by humans. When Damiel overlooks lonely trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin), he falls in love, and the desire to leave his observational duties behind overwhelms him, and he ponders the idea of 'taking the plunge' and becoming re-born himself. He and Cassiel have also taken a special interest in visiting actor Peter Falk (playing himself) who is in town to shoot a World War II movie.

The opening half an hour of this film is simply one of the most beautiful openings to a film I've ever seen. It is incoherent, and drifts seemingly randomly from person to person, as we hear their inner thoughts and experiences. Damiel and Cassiel drift around a busy library that is full of fellow angels comforting those studying and seeking answers. Even those in distress seem to please Damiel, as it is one of the things that makes us human. His life so far has been full of mere observation, and he longs for pain, worry, or fear, or something that will finally allow him to actually feel something. As much as this film is about humanity, it is equally about war.

As Damiel and Cassiel walks the streets of the still war-scarred Berlin, they discuss how they witnessed the First Days. They saw the first river reach it's shore, and the very first animals appear. They talk about they both laughed when the first human appeared, being born in their image, and opening it's mouth to say its first word. Was it 'oh' or 'ah', they try to recall. But then they stopped laughing when the humans discovered war. The Berlin in Wings of Desire is still full of rubble and half-destroyed buildings, and the inhabitants are still very much effected by the war. Cassiel takes a special interest in an old man named Homer, who is looking for Potsdamer Platz. Laid to waste during war and still lying desolate, the man only finds a chair in a field and graffiti-stained walls. He wishes for an 'epic of peace'.

But as well as portraying the dark side of humanity, it also celebrates the best of it. When Damiel comes across Peter Falk at a coffee stand, Falk feels his presence. He talks about how when he is cold, he rubs his hands together to warm up, and how good it feels. Damiel watches him in awe, and longs for the taste of coffee and a cigarette. When Damiel finally takes the plunge, the film turns from beautiful sepia monochrome into fully-realised colour. It's the same effect done in A Matter of Life and Death. It's a simple yet beautiful statement about how we can miss the things that are right in front of us, if we fail to just open our eyes.

It's a sentimental film that if anybody else's hands may have come across as patronising or whimsical. But Wenders directs with such as beauty and a poetry that it never feels preachy. He focuses on the basic human emotions and dissects them in such a complex way that is rarely seen in cinema - he also did a similar thing with his powerful Paris, Texas. An absolutely wonderful film that is truly one of the most moving and beautiful I've ever seen, and a true and a honest depiction of the human spirit.
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