“A war-torn city, suffering from physical and political schizophrenia symbolised by the wall itself, snaking through the city”
Last Sunday on 9th of November, the fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated. So I thought that Wings of desire (original title: Der Himmel über Berlin) would be a suitable film. It’s a story about two angels but also about Berlin itself, its past, present and future.
The film follows two angels, Daniel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) moving invisibly through the devided city. Being immortal they have always existed and have watched the city for a long time – since the beginning. Before any humans were there. They remember the melting of glaciers. They recall that it took a long time for the river to find its bed. They have followed it through centuries, sometimes seen it develop piecefully but too often seen it torn apart by human madness. They are witnesses, their main purpose being “to assemble, testify, preserve. But they are also guardians, even if they cannot directly interfere. They watch and listen to the thoughts of the inhabitants – in the streets, in trams, on bars. Sometimes they step down to place a comforting hand on a shoulder. Then Daniel falls in love with a trapeze artist and decides he must become human.
A subplot follows the actor, Peter Falk, who plays himself. He has arrived in Berlin to make a film about Berlin’s Nazi past. Eventually it becomes clear that he was once an angel, but he grew tired of always observing and never experiencing and renounced his immortality to become a participant in the world.
This is such a poetic, enchanting movie, filled with sadness, isolation and yearning. It was directed by Wim Wenders, who got the prize for “Best Director” at Cannes Film Festival in 1987.
The photo is interesting: When things are shown from the angels’ point of view, the film is shot in black and white, when seen through human eyes, it’s shot in colour.