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Wings of Desire (The Criterion Collection)

58 customer reviews

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(Nov 03, 2009)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) is one of cinema’s loveliest city symphonies. Bruno Ganz is Damiel, an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts—fears, hopes, and dreams—of all the people living below. But when he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist, he is willing to give up his immortality to come back to earth to be with her. Made not long before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this stunning tapestry of sounds and images, shot in black and white and color by the legendary Henri Alekan, is movie poetry. And it forever made the name Wim Wenders synonymous with film art.

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Wim Wenders
  • Audio commentary featuring Wenders and actor Peter Falk
  • The Angels Among Us (2003), a documentary featuring interviews with Wenders, Falk, actors Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander, writer Peter Handke, and composer Jürgen Knieper
  • Excerpt from: Wim Wenders Berlin Jan. 87, an episode of the French television program Cinéma cinémas, including on-set footage
  • Interview with director of photography Henri Alekan
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes
  • Excerpts from the films Alekan la lumière (1985) and Remembrance: Film for Curt Bois (about the actor who plays Homer in Wings of Desire)
  • Notes and photos by production designer Heidi Lüdi and art director Toni Lüdi
  • Trailers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson and writings by Wenders and Handke

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Curt Bois, Solveig Dommartin, Peter Falk, Bruno Ganz, Otto Sander
  • Directors: Wim Wenders
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,172 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wings of Desire (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
No movie that I see on a regular basis makes me feel so powerfully the joy of being alive as this one. Although many films and numberless and sappy television shows since 1987 have used angels of one dreadful sort or another, Wim Wenders managed to success while all the others failed. Working from a story by celebrated writer Peter Handke, Wenders takes angels that seem to have more in common with Rilke's Duino Elegies than the Bible or the New Age angels. Their function is to watch and observe and record, and in their own limited fashion, to comfort and commiserate. The trick wasn't to come up with the gimmick of angels being able to listen to the thoughts of humans, but to make those thoughts beautiful and representative of all that is quintessentially human. The trick wasn't to have the angels see in black and white and the humans in color, but in making what was seen, whether two or many toned, beautiful. One has only to see the absolutely appalling CITY OF ANGELS, an English language remake starring Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage, to see that having gimmicks isn't enough; you must have substance as well.

This is not a perfect film. There are some dull moments, and I thoroughly dislike a couple of moments in the film, in particular, Dommartin's speech to Bruno Ganz in the bar near the end of the film. But there are so many magnificent moments, so many moments where they not merely get something right, but produce a moment of almost transcendent beauty, that WINGS OF DESIRE provides more than entertainment, but something akin to a reason to live. The movie becomes in the end a celebration of life, of all the tawdry elements that go into being human. The movie ends in affirming nearly as many things as Walt Whitman does in "Song of Myself."

I love the cast.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tadpole on January 29, 2011
Format: DVD
Pretty simple equation here: you'll either love this film or never want to taste it again! I will add this: if you like modern poetry - or not like it for the matter, which is the case with me - you should give this one a try. Very deep and soulful subtitles. This is a film you "float" with; just let go and let it take you where it will. Personally, I felt more alive - revived, if you will - immediately after my first viewing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By JTN on March 6, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Soon after I began studying German in 1990, I discovered this film and was able to purchase a book of the screenplay. Since I already spoke fluent French, and since the film is a mixture of German, French and English (the scenes with Peter Falk), it was a natural for me. I really studied this film, and I soon came to regard it as a German "Citizen Kane". The fact that it occurs in a still divided Berlin, with the Angels walking through the wall in the midst of one of my favorite conversations (about what they had witnessed there from shortly after the creation to the present) adds immensely to the film's flavor. I can understand why some people find it annoying, because the dialogue is quite philosophical, and the various people's thoughts, as heard by the angels, can be overwhelming at times, especially when multiple thought streams crowd in. And yet the philosophical parts, as expressed by the angels, an elderly man named Homer (the story teller), the French trapeze artist (the woman with whom Damien, one of the angels, falls in love), even Peter Falk, are what make this film a masterpiece. The trapeze artist's monologue when Damien finds her toward the end of the film is positively brilliant. For escapist entertainment, many may well prefer the American remake, "City of Angels", which modifies the plot and drops the philosophy, but for pure genius, it is difficult to beat Wim Wenders' film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Medusa on July 12, 2010
Format: DVD
Don't be discouraged by the slow pace of the movie. You need to keep in mind when this movie was made and the theories of existence in vogue at the time. Bruno Ganz shines as an angel who listens to peoples' introspection and gets intrigued by the emotions that only humans experience.

Once Henry Van Dyke said:"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but those who love, time is eternity." So will the angel Will the Angel choose eternity in heaven or eternity through love? The journey is yours to discover and it is worth the time!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on November 5, 2009
Format: DVD
The first disc features an audio commentary that actually consists of excerpts of interviews with director Wim Wenders and actor Peter Falk over several years. Wenders talks about the origins of Wings of Desire - it was a return to his hometown of Berlin after spending eight years in the United States. He had planned to make another film but it was too complex and expensive. He had to come up with another idea and quick or the production company he had assembled would break up. This fascinating anecdote is only one of many engaging stories as the two men tell all kinds of filming tales. They do a good job of taking us through the making of this film.

Also included are the German theatrical trailer and an amusing "Wen Wunderts" promo trailer.

The second disc features the bulk of the extra material, starting off with "The Angels Among Us," a 2003 documentary where key cast and crew members are interviewed. Wenders wanted to make a film about Berlin, the way he remembered it when he was young. Peter Handke talks about his unconventional approach to the script. For the two main angels, Wenders cast Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander based on their 20-year friendship and working relationship. Everyone speaks quite eloquently about their experiences making Wings of Desire.

"Cinema Cinemas" features an interview with Wenders from the February 17, 1987 episode of this French television program. We see Wenders at work on the set of Wings of Desire with his cast and crew shooting scenes from the film.

Also included are nine deleted scenes with commentary by Wenders and outtakes but only with music. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of footage of the angels observing humanity. The outtakes feature all sorts of beautiful shots of Berlin.
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Defective Disc?
Yeah, me too. It's really annoying - I finally got around to watching it today, and it's screwed up.
Dec 17, 2009 by Ryan Felts |  See all 4 posts
seeking cool international DVDs
As to French, I'd highly recommend Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring. I also enjoyed My Father's Glory, and My Mother's Castle.

From Spain, I enjoyed Tristana, and Open Your Eyes.

My concentration is Asia, and I very much enjoyed Be With You, Heaven's Bookstore, Coquille, Yomigaeri... Read More
Nov 2, 2009 by C.G.M. |  See all 2 posts
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