The Info List - Wings Of Desire

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_WINGS OF DESIRE_ (German : _DER HIMMEL üBER BERLIN_ – "The Heavens Over Berlin") is a 1987 romantic fantasy film directed by Wim Wenders . The film is about invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin
and listen to the thoughts of its human inhabitants, comforting those who are in distress. Even though the city is densely populated, many of the people are isolated or estranged from their loved ones. One of the angels, played by Bruno Ganz
Bruno Ganz
, falls in love with a beautiful, lonely trapeze artist, played by Solveig Dommartin . The angel chooses to become mortal so that he can experience human sensory pleasures, ranging from enjoying food to touching a loved one, and so that he can discover human love with the trapeze artist.

Inspired by art depicting angels visible around West Berlin , at the time enclaved by the Berlin Wall , Wenders and author Peter Handke conceived of the story and continued to develop the screenplay throughout the French and German co-production. The film was shot by Henri Alekan in both a rich, sepia-toned black-and-white and colour, with the former being used to represent the world as seen by the angels. For _Wings of Desire_, Wenders won awards for Best Director at both the Cannes Film Festival and European Film Awards . The film was a critical and financial success, and academics have interpreted it as a statement of the importance of cinema, libraries, the circus, or German unity , containing New Age , religious, secular or other themes.

It was followed by a sequel, _ Faraway, So Close! _, released in 1993. _City of Angels _, a U.S. remake, was released in 1998. _Wings of Desire_ has often been regarded as one of the major films of the 1980s .


* 1 Plot * 2 Cast * 3 Themes and interpretations

* 4 Production

* 4.1 Conception * 4.2 Casting * 4.3 Filming * 4.4 Post-production

* 5 Release

* 6 Reception

* 6.1 Box office * 6.2 Critical reception * 6.3 Accolades

* 7 Legacy * 8 See also

* 9 References

* 9.1 Bibliography

* 10 External links


In a Berlin
divided by the Berlin Wall , two angels , Damiel and Cassiel, watch the city, unseen and unheard by its human inhabitants. They observe and listen to the thoughts of Berliners, including a pregnant woman in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, a young prostitute standing by a busy road, and a broken man who feels betrayed by his wife. Their _raison d'être_ is, as Cassiel says, to "assemble, testify, preserve" reality. Damiel and Cassiel have always existed as angels; they were in Berlin
before it was a city, and before there were any humans.

Among the Berliners they encounter in their wanderings is an old man named Homer, who, unlike the Greek poet Homer
, dreams of an "epic of peace". Cassiel follows the old man as he looks for the then-demolished Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz
in an open field, and finds only the graffiti -covered Wall. Although Damiel and Cassiel are pure observers, visible only to children, and incapable of any interaction with the physical world, Damiel begins to fall in love with a profoundly lonely circus trapeze artist named Marion. She lives by herself in a caravan in West Berlin , dances alone to the music of Crime "> The graffiti on the Berlin Wall is depicted in the film.

Meanwhile, actor Peter Falk
Peter Falk
arrives in West Berlin to make a film about the city's Nazi past. Falk was once an angel, who, having grown tired of always observing and never experiencing, renounced his immortality to become a participant in the world. Also growing weary of infinity, Damiel's longing is in the opposite direction, for the genuineness and limits of human existence. He meets Marion in a dream, and is surprised when Falk senses his presence and tells him about the pleasures of human life.

Damiel is finally persuaded to shed his immortality. He experiences life for the first time: he bleeds, sees colours, tastes food and drinks coffee. Meanwhile, Cassiel taps into the mind of a young man just about to commit suicide by jumping off a building. Cassiel tries to save the young man but is unable to do so, and is left tormented by the experience. Sensing Cassiel's presence, Falk reaches out to him as he had Damiel, but Cassiel is unwilling to follow their example. Eventually, Damiel meets the trapeze artist Marion at a bar during a concert by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds , and they greet each other with familiarity as if they had long known each other. The next day, Damiel considers how his time with Marion taught him to feel amazed, and how he has gained knowledge no angel is capable of achieving.


Cast photos at filming location Imbiss Bundesallee in Berlin.

* Bruno Ganz
Bruno Ganz
as Damiel * Solveig Dommartin as Marion * Otto Sander as Cassiel * Curt Bois as Homer, the aged poet * Didier Flamand as The Angel * Peter Falk
Peter Falk
as himself (credited as "Der Filmstar") * Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds as themselves * Crime "> The story contains similarities to the fallen angel concept, though unrelated to evil.

is not mentioned in the film, and is only referred to in the sequel _ Faraway, So Close! _ when the angels state a purpose to connect humans with "Him". Scholars Robert Phillip Kolker and Peter Beickene attributed the apparent lack of God
to New Age beliefs, remarking Damiel's "fall " is similar to the story of Lucifer
, though not related to evil. Nevertheless, Professor Craig Detweiler believed the sky-level view of Berlin
and the idea of guardian angels evoke God. Authors Martin Brady and Joanne Leal added that even if Damiel is tempted by seemingly profane things, the atmosphere of Berlin
means he is still in "a place of poetry, myth and religion" as a human.

In one scene, Damiel and Cassiel meet to share stories in their observations, with their function revealed to be one of preserving the past. Professor Alexander Graf wrote this connects them to cinema, with Wenders noting _Wings of Desire_ itself depicts or shows places in Berlin
that have since been destroyed or altered, including a bridge, Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz
and the Wall . The closing titles state: "Dedicated to all the former angels, but especially to Yasujiro, François and Andrej." This is a reference to fellow filmmakers Yasujirō Ozu , François Truffaut , and Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Tarkovsky
. These directors had all died before the release of the film, with Kolker and Beickene arguing they were an influence on Wenders: Ozu had taught Wenders order; Truffaut the observation of people, especially youth; and Tarkovsky, a less clear influence on Wenders, consideration of morality and beauty. Identifying directors as angels could tie in with the film characters' function to record. Yasujirō Ozu , one of the film dedication's "angels".

Academic Laura Marcus believed a connection between cinema and print is also established in the angels' affinity for libraries, as Wenders portrays the library as a tool of "memory, and public space", making it a miraculous place. The depiction of Damiel, by using a pen or an immaterial pen, to write "Song of Childhood", is also tribute to print and literacy, introducing, or as Marcus hypothesized, "perhaps even releasing, the visual images that follow". Kolker and Beickene interpreted the use of poetry as part of screenwriter Peter Handke 's efforts to elevate language above common rhetoric to the spiritual. Reviewing the poetry, Detweiler remarked that Handke's "Song of Childhood" bears parallels to St. Paul 's 1 Corinthians 13 ("_When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child ..._ ").

The film has also been read as a call for German reunification , which followed in 1990. Essayists David Caldwell and Paul Rea saw it as presenting a series of two opposites: East and West, angel and human, male and female. Wenders' angels are not bound by the Wall, reflecting East and West Berlin's shared space, though East Berlin remains primarily black and white. Scholar Martin Jesinghausen believed the film presumed reunification would never happen, and contemplated its statements on divides, including territorial and "higher" divides, "physicality and spirituality, art and reality, black and white and colour". Researcher Helen Stoddart, in discussing the depiction of the circus and trapeze artist Marion in particular, submitted Marion is the classic circus character, creating an image of danger and then potential. Stoddart argued that Homer
and Marion may find the future in what remains of history found in Berlin. Stoddart considered the circular nature of the story, including the parallel between Damiel and Marion as angel who cannot see the physical and faux angel who can "see the faces", her observation that all directions lead to the Wall, and the final French dialogue "We have embarked" while the screen states " To be continued ", suggesting "final movement to a new beginning".



art depicting angels served as an inspiration to the filmmakers.

After living and working in the United States for eight years, director Wim Wenders returned to his native West Germany and wished to reconnect to it with a film about his favourite part of it, West Berlin
. Planning to make _ Until the End of the World _ in 1985, he realised that project would not be ready for two years, and wishing to return to photography as soon as possible, he considered another project.

Rainer Maria Rilke 's poetry partially inspired the story. Wenders claimed angels seemed to dwell in Rilke's poetry, and the director had also jotted "angels" in his notes one day, and noted angel-themed artwork in cemeteries and around Berlin. In his treatment , Wenders also considered a backstory in which God
exiled his angels to Berlin as punishment for defending humans after 1945, when God
had decided to forsake them.

Wenders employed Peter Handke , who wrote much of the dialogue, the poetic narrations, and the film's recurring poem "Song of Childhood". Wenders found the names Damiel and Cassiel in an encyclopedia about angels, and also had photographs of Solveig Dommartin , Bruno Ganz
Bruno Ganz
and Otto Sander that served as muses. The idea that angels could read minds led to Wenders considering personal dialogue no one would say aloud. Handke did not feel able to write a single coherent story, but promised to regularly send notes on ideas during production. Given the nature of this arrangement, Wenders would hold daily meetings with his crew, frequently at late hours, to plan the logistics for the following day.


Wenders believed it would be important for the actors playing the two main angel characters to be familiar and friendly with each other. Ganz and Sander had performed in some of the same stage productions for 20 years. Sander and Ganz also recommended Curt Bois to Wenders and asked Bois to perform.

Peter Falk
Peter Falk
's role was not planned until photography had already begun, with Wenders planning an artist or political official to have an analogous role until assistant Claire Denis suggested the _Columbo _ star would be familiar to everyone. Falk described the part as "the craziest thing that I've ever been offered", but quickly agreed. He was accustomed to the improvisation the newly created role required, and Wenders and Falk met, leading to the ideas of the character sketching and searching for a hat.


State Library was a filming location.

The film was shot by the cinematographer Henri Alekan , who had worked on Jean Cocteau 's _La Belle et la Bête _. It represents the angels' point of view in monochrome, as they cannot see colours, and switches to colour to show the human point of view. During filming, Alekan used a very old and fragile silk stocking that had belonged to his grandmother as a filter for the monochromatic sequences, adding a touch of sepia to the black and white . The shift from monochrome to colour, to distinguish the angels' reality from that of the mortals, was used earlier in _A Matter of Life and Death _. Wenders felt it was natural that angels without experience of the physical would not see colour, and also thought Berlin
photographed well in black and white. A challenge in the cinematography was posed by using the camera for the perception of angels, as angels are not restrained in how far they can observe, in any dimension.

Filming took place at actual locations in West Berlin , such as Hans Scharoun 's Berlin
State Library , though the Wall was recreated in studio, due to shooting the true Wall being outlawed. Some pieces of the recreation were made from inexpensive wood, with one being destroyed by rain during production.

With little idea of how to portray the angels and no costume design, Wenders said the filmmakers consulted artwork, experimented, and found the idea of armor during production, and told U.S. filmmaker Brad Silberling they did not decide on overcoats until later. The hairstyle was loosely inspired by a photograph of a Japanese warrior. Although the circus scenes required extensive and risky acrobatics, Dommartin was able to learn the trapeze and rope moves in only eight weeks, and did all the work herself, without a stunt double.


Peter Handke arrived in West Berlin during the editing process, led by Peter Przygodda . Handke believed it bordered on a silent film , aside from some music, and lacked much of the notes he had sent to Wenders during filming. Handke thus proposed adding his writings via voice-over . After Falk left Berlin, he recorded much of his voice-over in a sound studio in Los Angeles
Los Angeles
. Much of this was improvised, though Wenders still supervised by telephone.

Composer Jürgen Knieper assumed harps and violins would suffice for a score for a film about angels, until he saw a cut of the film. Seeing the angels were discontent, he wrote a different score also employing a choir, voices and whistling. A pie fight between the stars was filmed for the final scene, but later edited out.


Wim Wenders attended the 2015 Berlin
International Film Festival .

The film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 1987. _Der Himmel über Berlin_ subsequently opened in West Germany late in October 1987. With Orion Classics as its U.S. distributor, it opened in New York City
New York City
as _Wings of Desire_ on 29 April 1988 with a PG-13 rating . Sander said that it had a release in Japan, and that while angels do not appear in Japanese mythology , Tokyo audiences would approach him after and share their impressions about the characters.

In 2009, The Criterion Collection released the film in Region 1 on DVD
and Blu-ray . It later screened at the 65th Berlin
International Film Festival in February 2015, to mark Wenders' Honorary Golden Bear .



_Der Himmel über Berlin_ had 922,718 admissions in Germany. Under the title _Les Ailes du désir_, it had a further 1,079,432 admissions in France.

The film finished its run in North America on 11 May 1989, having grossed $3.2 million, or possibly nearly $4 million, a beneficial investment for Orion. Critic James Monaco assessed the financial performance as above that of typical art films. In 2000, _Variety _ calculated that it was 48th in the top 50 highest-grossing foreign language films ever released in the U.S., and one of only three in German , along with _ Das Boot _ and _ Run Lola Run _.


_Wings of Desire_ received "Two Thumbs Up" from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on _Siskel & Ebert ">'s Rita Kempley credited Wenders and Handke for crafting a "whimsical realm of myth and philosophical pretense, dense with imagery and sweetened by Ganz's performance". Dissenting, Pauline Kael remarked, "It's enough to make moviegoers feel impotent".

By 1990, _Wings of Desire_ was placed in the top 10 best films of the 1980s by critics David Denby (first), _The Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times _'s Sheila Benson (fourth), _ The Orange County Register _'s Jim Emerson (fifth) and Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss (tenth). _Premiere _ voted it the second greatest film of the 1980s, after _ Raging Bull _. James Monaco awarded it four and a half stars in his 1992 _Movie Guide_, praising it as "A rich, mystical near-masterpiece". In 1998, Ebert added it to his Great Movies list, championing it for a "a mood of reverie, elegy and meditation". In 2004, _The New York Times_ also included the film on its list of "the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made". It was later ranked 64th in _Empire _ magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010. In 2011, _ The Guardian _ placed it in the 10 best films ever set in Berlin. In his _2015 Movie Guide_, Leonard Maltin awarded it three and a half stars, describing it as "Haunting" and "lyrical". The review aggregator _ Rotten Tomatoes _ records that 98% of its cited critics gave the film a positive review. According to online film resource _They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?_, _Wings of Desire_ is the most acclaimed film of 1987.


The film competed for the Palme d\'Or and won for Best Director at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival . In 1988, it won the prestigious Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association .

It was submitted by West Germany for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film , a bid supported by its distribution company. It was not nominated, with the Academy traditionally not recognizing West German cinema.


Belgian Film Critics Association 1988 Grand Prix Wim Wenders Won

British Academy Film Awards 19 March 1989 Best Film Not in the English Language Wim Wenders and Anatole Dauman Nominated

Cannes Film Festival 7 – 19 May 1987 Best Director Wim Wenders Won

César Awards 12 March 1988 Best Foreign Film Nominated

European Film Awards 1988 Best Film Wim Wenders and Anatole Dauman Nominated

Best Director Wim Wenders Won

Best Supporting Actor Curt Bois Won

Best Camera Henri Alekan Nominated

French Syndicate of Cinema Critics 1988 Best Foreign Film Wim Wenders Won

German Film Awards 1988 Best Feature Film Won

Best Cinematography Henri Alekan Won

Independent Spirit Awards
Independent Spirit Awards
25 March 1989 Best Foreign Film Wim Wenders Won

Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Film Critics Association 10 December 1988 Best Foreign Language Film Won

Best Cinematography Henri Alekan Won

National Society of Film Critics 8 January 1989 Best Director Wim Wenders 3rd place

Best Cinematography Henri Alekan Won


_ Prague
's Angel_ by Jean Nouvel .

In 1993, Wenders made a sequel, _ Faraway, So Close! _, which he found desirable to explore Berlin
post-reunification , more so than for the sake of a sequel. In 1998, a U.S. remake directed by Brad Silberling called _City of Angels _ was released. The setting was moved to Los Angeles and Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage starred. In 1990, an Indian film in Malayalam , titled _ Njan Gandharvan _ was made by P Padmarajan , with a similar thread. In Prague
, Czech Republic, Jean Nouvel designed _Angel_, a building that features an angel from the film observing the people of the Smíchov

A stage adaptation of _Wings of Desire_ was created by the Northern Stage theatre company in Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
, U.K. in 2003. This particular adaptation, which used film footage of the city and stories from the community, was adapted and directed by Alan Lyddiard. In 2006, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts , and Toneelgroep Amsterdam presented another stage adaptation, created by Gideon Lester and Dirkje Houtman and directed by Ola Mafaalani .


* List of submissions to the 60th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film * List of German submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film


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* Batchelor, David (2000). _Chromophobia_. Reaktion Books. ISBN 1861890745 . * Billingham, Peter (2013). "'Into My Arms': Themes of Desire and Spirituality in The Boatman's Call". _The Art of Nick Cave: New Critical Essays_. Bristol and Chicago: Intellect Books. ISBN 1841506273 . * Brady, Martin; Leal, Joanne (2011). "Leafing Through Wings of Desire". _ Wim Wenders and Peter Handke: Collaboration, Adaptation, Recomposition_. Rodopi. ISBN 9042032480 . * Bromley, Roger (2001). _From Alice to Buena Vista: The Films of Wim Wenders_. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0275966488 . * Byg, Barton (2014). "Spectral Images in the Aftermath of GDR Cinema". _DEFA After East Germany_. Rochester, New York: Camden House. ISBN 1571135820 . * Christensen, Miyase; Erdoǧan, Nezih (2008). _Shifting Landscapes: Film and Media in European Context_. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 1847184731 . * Cook, Roger F. (1997). "Angels, Fiction, and History in Berlin: Wings of Desire". _The Cinema of Wim Wenders: Image, Narrative, and the Postmodern Condition_. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814325785 . * Detweiler, Craig (2009). "Christianity". _The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film_. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 1135220662 . * Detweiler, Craig (2017). "10. Wings of Desire". _ God
in the Movies: A Guide for Exploring Four Decades of Film_. Brazos Press. ISBN 1493410598 . * Fitzpatrick, Rob; Roland, Mark (2006). _Gods of Rock_. New York: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 1402736738 . * Graf, Alexander (2002). "Chapter Three: Wings of Desire". _The Cinema of Wim Wenders: The Celluloid Highway_. London and New York: Wallflower Press. ISBN 1903364299 . *