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See this movie if you love Nicholas Ray
25 April 2000
This is not a movie for Wenders fans as much as it is for Nick Ray fans. In fact, I wouldn't recommend it unless you felt connected to the director. And I don't mean that you've happened to rent Johnny Guitar, In a Lonely Place or They Live By Night. See it if you saw a theme in Ray's work, one that made you go back and learn about his life. See it if you re-watched his films, trying to understand every cut and what it told you about the man behind the camera. See it if it bothers you that he will never make another film. Because in Lightning over water Nicholas Ray invites you to share his death with him, and, if you see it, you must be prepared to grieve. I saw this movie late one night in my college dorm room (a college with a featured role in the film, but that is merely tangential). I didn't let anyone watch it with me. The previous summer my grandfather had died in the same drawn-out manner. He was surrounded by family from the time of his diagnosis to the time of his death. Wenders and his crew are Nick Ray's family -- a love of the director's work is the blood connecting them. Wenders carries a camera with him because he knows that others -- even those who never heard of Nicholas Ray until he was dead for 18 years -- have the same blood in them. Wenders gives us the chance. But it is Nick Ray who we come to see.
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