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Nick's Film - Lightning Over Water (1979)

Gerry Bamman , Ronee Blakley , Wim Wenders  |  NR |  DVD
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gerry Bamman, Ronee Blakley, Pierre Cottrell, Stefan Czapsky, Mitch Dubin
  • Directors: Wim Wenders
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: January 7, 2003
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006LPC8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,124 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Nick's Film - Lightning Over Water" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Director Wim Wenders
  • Nicholas Ray: Especially for Pierre - a 38 minute lecture by Nicholas Ray

Editorial Reviews

Director 'Nicholas Ray' is eager to complete a final film before his imminent death from cancer. Wim Wenders is working on his own film _Hammett (1983)_ in Hollywood, but flies to New York to help Ray realize his final wish. Ray's original intent is to make a fiction film about a dying painter who sails to China to find a cure for his disease. He and Wenders discuss this idea, but it is obviously unrealistic given Ray's state of health.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Deeply Moving Documentary February 7, 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Wow. Watching Nick Ray die of cancer is not an easy thing to watch. Still, he had the desire to make a final film and even had an idea to make a movie about the painter from Wenders' "American Friend" sail to China in search of a cure for cancer. Given Ray's state of health, such a film was unrealistic, but Wim Wenders did rise to the occasion and help Ray complete this movie which ends up being about his own death.

Parts of it started out as being scripted, so the result is a part fiction/part documentary look at Ray's final days. One cannot help but be moved by such an intimate look at Ray and those who love him surrounding him.

The film transfer on this DVD is far superior to the old Pacific Arts videotape and laserdisc. Those older releases were not even made up of the proper cut of the film, so people now have a chance to see the definitive version of the movie (in it's correct aspect ratio) likely for the first time.

Ronnee Blakley's songs shine on the soundtrack and Wenders' commentary track (done in the Fall of 2002) is very insightful.

This movie can hardly be described as a happy film, but it is rare to see death addressed so honestly and with such care as it is in this movie. This is a great DVD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lightning Over Water September 6, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An intimate portrayal of a brilliant artist's last days that manages to convey a sense of love and hope, without ghoulishness or maudlin sentiment. It's clear the two men not only admire each other's work, but are genuinely fond of each other. Ray comes off as remarkably gutsy and forthright in his predicament, and Wenders is the best of friends-someone quietly, patiently, willingly there for the ailing Ray, and who records the fading of his light as a final, heart-felt affirmation of who Ray is, and of all he did.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WIM WENDERS BADGERS A DYING MAN October 15, 2007
Nick Ray is the director of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, JOHNNY GUITAR, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, and THE LUSTY MEN, among other movies. In 1979, still a heavy chain-smoker, Nick Ray is dying of lung cancer. As a final wish, he wants to make one last movie, and places it in the hands of German New Wave director Wim Wenders. The result is LIGHTNING OVER WATER, a documentary record of Wender's complete failure to come up with a film about anything other than the dying of Nick Ray.

Wenders, who was concurrently at work on a project in California which required him to interrupt the making of LIGHNTING OVER WATER, basically moved into Nick Ray's New York apartment, with no other object than to film Nick Ray dying. But the two men were at cross-purposes. While Wenders wanted to film a documentary capturing the death of Nick Ray, Nick ray himself wanted to make a fictional (yet semi-autobiographical) film about a dying painter. It is sad to see the old man realize during the making of the film that it is actually a movie about himself dying. Wenders hadn't a clue as to where to take the film (he admits as much in his director's commentary, a DVD extra). Basically, the camera was just there to be with Nick in his final days.

The situation in the film is summed up in an exchange between Wenders and Ray in which they try to decide what the movie is going to be about, in order to give it direction.

Wim Wenders: I guess we just go on making this film?

Nick Ray: Well, I have one action, which is to regain my self-image . . . And for you, you have to select your own action, that which is closest to you.

Wenders: My action is going to be defined by yours. My action is going to be defined by your facing death.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good July 13, 2008
By A Customer
I came into this one knowing nothing about Wim Wenders or Nicholas Ray. Nicholas Ray was apparently one of the great directors, but in this film he's dying of cancer and still smoking cigarettes. The vibe I quickly pick up on is two fellow artists who always reached for greatness rather than just phoning it in.

It's kinda quirky, funny most of the time, powerfully moving in spots which gain strength from the unusual bits surrounding them, occasionally confusing but never boring or off-putting, and on the whole just a very watchable and memorable documentary. Moments of extreme lucidity by Nicholas Ray make the mumbly bits of his deterioration more striking.

It made me glad I had some unwatched Wim Wenders DVDs in the house and it made me want to watch something by Nicholas Ray. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, maybe, which I've always heard is a classic.
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