[This is a posthumous post -as every other one published here by Arishej after 13-August, 2016. The drafts (there were two -put together now-) date from January 2016]
Wim Wenders’ “Der Himmel über Berlin„ (1987) [English version: “Wings of Desire”] is a film that I admire in spite of do not liking it much and of having in very low esteem the rather philo-fascist ethos of the scriptwriter (Peter Handke) -a very talented one, anyway.
This paradox in my feelings and taste comes from the heterogeneous quality of the work, which features a moderately good story, badly told in my opinion, with a really lovely part about a pretty, profoundly lonely circus trapeze artist (with whom I identified at once; partially for her job -having been myself in the show-business- but mainly for her loneliness). In this portion of the movie, we watch her acting on the trapeze, undressing in the caravan where she lives by herself, dancing alone to the music of “Crime & the City Solution” (an Australian rock music band), and drifting through a desolated West Berlin.
This city is in fact the true protagonist of the film. We see it just before the fall of the infamous wall which encircled it, and it is very well photographed in a rich, sepia-toned black-and-white.
The angels who dwell there since ages ago, cannot interact with people, but listen to their thoughts, watch their actions and study their lives. While they can make their presence felt to a few in minute ways, only children and other angels can see them. They spend their days serenely observing, apparently unable to feel neither pain nor joy. Anyway, one of them is able to grasp the solitude and yearning for love of the trapeze artist, falls in love with her and chooses to become human so that he can experience the sensory pleasures denied to him -ranging from smoking and enjoying food to touching her loved one-.
The movie is shot both in sepia (to represent the world as experienced by the angels) and in colour, and despite its parsimonious and somewhat tiresome narrative pace, transmits well a dreamy atmosphere, and has, most of the while, an enigmatic, haunting quality. On the other hand, its elusiveness -even coldness- prevents it from becoming really touching; at least to me; except in the part that features the girl and her melancholic existence.
As some of you may have noticed, the very avatar of this blog comes from one of the photograms displayed below, only cropped (and with its colours reversed to represent my lack of hopes of finding true love ‘outside’ anymore. At least not in this world.)
The original frames themselves, like the entire scene inside the caravan, seem beautiful to me, and for this alone I would keep this film among my dearest ones. Here there are three of them which I have found online and restored (or edited) conveniently to reach my standards for this blog.
Now, a bit more every day, in spite of all my hopelessness, I do really expect (I know it!) that Light and Love are not far away; just beyond a different kind of window: a threshold inside me that I will have to cross.
[Ari F – January 2016]
Annex (and some heartfelt apologies)
When editing and summarizing my sister’s notes about this film, I misunderstood (if fact, missed to read) a couple of lines and attributed to the director, Wim Wenders, a hard judgment that my sister was addressing to the screenwriter instead (Peter Handke; an Austrian novelist, playwright, political activist and defender of Slobodan Milošević…)
So I apologize very deeply for my mistake to anybody who could have read this post before my correction; to my sister Ariel and, most especially, to Wim Wenders -to whom I wish all the best and pay my humble and due respects!