An interesting gathering of fiction features and documentaries spanning nearly a quarter-century of filmmaking by one of the original giants of the German New Wave, The Wim Wenders Collection, Vol. 2
has both the famous and obscure. From Wenders' early career comes 1972's The Scarlet Letter
, which helped define the director's passion for the theme of the outsider in society. Senta Berger stars as Hester Prynne, the 17th century heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne's proto-feminist novel. Lou Castel plays her tormented lover, Reverend Dimmesdale, and Hans Christian Blech is the husband who disappeared and underwent a transformation while in captivity. The mesmerizing The Wrong Move
(1974) was one of the films that brought Wenders international attention, and it's another adaptation: this time Goethe's Wilhelm Meister
. Ruediger Vogeler, an icon in Wenders' first works, stars as Meister, a writer who takes a journey in a forest with several companions (among them Hanna Schygulla and Nastassja Kinski) and becomes the guest of a wealthy industrialist (Ivan Desny) with a dark secret. 1980's Lightning Over Water
is a loving and tragic tribute to American film director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause
), a major inspiration to Wenders and a physically fragile artist at the time of production.
Ray has a small part in the extraordinary The American Friend, a major success in Wenders career and a thriller based on Patricia Highsmith's novels about sociopath Tom Ripley. Dennis Hopper plays an isolated, deranged version of Ripley, seen here as an art dealer who sets up a dying restorer (Bruno Ganz) to commit a murder, then regrets his actions and becomes the innocent man's ally. The rest of Vol. 2 is more of Wenders' fascinating documentaries, including the wonderful Tokyo-Ga, a moving and sporadically funny 1985 essay about contemporary Tokyo and how it measures up to the Tokyo portrayed in the masterpieces of the late filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Room 666 (1984) is an unusual experiment in which several other world-class filmmakers consent to a spontaneous interview, one after the other, in a hotel room. Another experimental work, A Trick of Light (1996), concerns the Skladanowsky brothers, inventors of the Bioscope projector. Much of the film was shot using the film pioneers own, 19th century equipment. Finally, Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989) is an intriguing piece about Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, whose design process is viewed in the context of the computer age and digital information. Special features include a filmed lecture by Nicholas Ray, and commentary by Wenders on each of the movies. --Tom Keogh
Room 666: Film directors answer the question: "What is the future of cinema?".
Tokyo-Ga: Wim Wenders travels to Japan in search of the Tokyo seen in the films of Yasujiro Ozu
Wrong Move: Six days in the life of Wilhelm: a detached man without qualities. Couplings and rare bursts of feeling come as surprises; other characters remain alone.
Lightning Over Water: Wim Wenders helps his friend Nicholas Ray realize his final wish of completing a final film before his imminent death from cancer.
The Scarlet Letter: Based on a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
A Trick of Light: Award-winning Documentary
The American Friend: A metaphor for the relationship between American and German culture. Includes the cameo appearance of several Hollywood directors.
Notebook on Cities & Clothes: Wim Wenders talks with a Japanese fashion designer about the creative process and ponders the relationship between cities, identity and the cinema in the digital age.