Wings of Desire
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From Oscar®-nominated* writer/director Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club) comes this "exhilarating" (Vanity Fair) and life-affirming tale that won him the 1987 Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival and inspired City of Angels. Co-written with Peter Handke, this "enchanting" (The New York Times) film about the joy of life is "that rare thing a work of true originality" (Newsweek)! Damiel (Bruno Ganz) is a lonely angel who roams the streets of Berlin providing comfort to mortals in need. But when he is drawn into the life of a beautifuland troubledtrapeze artist, he experiences love for the first time and does everything in his power to be seen, heard and felt by her. Jeopardizing his divine position, Damiel is faced with a most difficult decision: either give up love or lose his eternal wings forever! *1999: Documentary Feature, Buena Vista Social Club
This Special Edition illustrates how time to reflect can create better DVD extras. Looking back 16 years after his film debuted in 1987, director Wim Wenders examines it with new eyes. The movie--largely unscripted, we learn--is a love letter to Berlin, a town in flux (it was shot before "the Wall" fell). Wender's dry, insightful commentary takes us through the genesis of the film and the importance of the real-world settings, many of which no longer exist. Peter Falk is also on the commentary track and, like his presence in the film, offers a punch of earnest emotion and humor. Much of the 45-minute featurette repeats Wenders's commentary points. Many of the key talents are interviewed and director Brad Silverberg takes on a role as the film's fan (he later made the Americanization, City of Angels). There's some 20 minutes of deleted scenes (polished and unpolished) including material that was reshot for the sequel. The packed disc includes an offbeat trailer or two along with a gorgeous transfer of the remarkable film. --Doug Thomas
- Deleted scenes with commentary by Wim Wenders
- "Angels Among Us" documentary
- Interactive map
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The film opens in beautiful sepia as angel Damiel watches over the city of Berlin. In fact the majority of this film is Damiel and fellow angel Cassiel walking about the city, listening to the thoughts of the men and women groping for meaning in their lives. One of the earliest sequences scales the apartments within one building, allowing us to hear what the angels hear, and it's this scene that really told me all I needed to know. This film is going to unlike anything I've ever seen before.
`Der Himmel uber Berlin' tells the story of Damiel, an angel who longs to experience the pleasures of life in the flesh, as a human, tasting the sweet air and seeing the vibrant colors, feeling the soft breathe of another and tasting their skin. As he walks the city he contemplates all that he is missing and dreams of one day forsaking his eternal forever for a chance at mortal happiness. Then his eyes fall upon the beautiful Marion, a lonely trapeze artist who captures Damiel's heart instantly. Now his longing to be a part of her world is stronger than ever and as the film draws to a close he has to make the most important decision of his life.
The idea of angels forsaking their heavenly home for the affections of women is not entirely new and or original; for if you remember, that did happen in the Bible, but what Wenders does with `Der Himmel uber Berlin' is make that action honorable, beautiful even. This film paints a vastly different picture than that of Biblical accounts. There is no adverse affects to the angels decision to leave his rightful home, just new experiences and a chance at love and `life'. What this film lacks in dramatic tension (`City of Angels' created its own) it makes up for in artistic beauty (something `City of Angels' didn't attempt to capture). `Der Himmel uber Berlin', as I mentioned, is intoxicating to watch. The sepia in which the majority of the film is shot (to capture the angels muted state) is rich and magnificent, even more so than the colors that flood Damiel's eyes upon becoming `human'. The words spoken (or should I say `thought') by the cast of characters are graceful and meaningful, words that stay with the viewer and incite him to contemplation.
The acting is also beautiful orchestrated. Bruno Ganz is flawless as Damiel, capturing his loneliness, his longing and eventually his overwhelming joy. I have never been a fan of Cage and honestly feel that his one-note performances drag down the films he inhabits. The same can be said for `City of Angels' (which thrives on Meg Ryan's magnificent performance) but nothing of the sort can be said for Ganz who embodies Damiel with believable perfection. Solveig Dommartin is effortless as Marion, the epitome of searching, an individual longing to be found by something deserving of her affections. Otto Sander delivers superbly as Cassiel and Peter Falk (who plays himself in an interesting twist) gives a very honest and tender performance.
In the end it is Wim Wenders whose star shines the brightest though. His direction is effortless and beautiful. He creates an intoxicating masterpiece that will be hard to top. `Der Himmel uber Berlin' is a strange and unique journey, but it is a journey well worth taking. Allow yourself to be carried away by its poetry; I promise you will be richly rewarded.