Solveig Dommartin in “Der Himmel über Berlin” BR720 [W.Germany, 1987]

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This post is more of an excuse to write something about the first German film I remember seeing – Wim Wender’s “Der Himmel über Berlin” [Eng. Title: Wings of Desire] when it was broadcast on TV over twenty years ago.

At the time, ‘Wings of Desire’ struck me as probably the most perfect film ever made – of course, that was based on the spotty teenager’s limited exposure to cinema back then.

Watching it again recently, I still find it sleek and serene – it cuts through you without noticing, giving a new perspective on the way things are, and most of all is life affirming, and leaves you with a warm glow inside. But what is still breathtaking (even more so in Blu-ray) is the superlative cinematography. The smooth-as-silk direction, intricate editing, and excellent script combine to produce what can only be called a cinematic masterpiece. If you haven’t watched this already, it is a film worth going miles to see. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!

The film follows two angels as they watch benignly over 1980’s Berlin. They walk around people unseen and listen to their thoughts, and when needed ‘touch them’ gently and move on. They however return to some people, and theirs are the little stories we follow in the film. You have an old age pensioner who spends most of his time in the library gathering knowledge so he could tell stories to people willing to listen, a film shoot starring Peter Falk who plays his brilliant self, and beautiful Marion, a trapeze artist who’s just about to perform her last show for the season. These scenes are shot in black and white, as seen by the angels from a detached perspective – it is when the angels feel human emotion that the screen changes to colour. One of the angels Damiel, falls in love with Marion and chooses to give up his immortality to experience life as it is, and of course meet the woman of his affections. But to call this film a romantic fantasy would belittle the profound insight into human character and behaviour that the film brings to fore.

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