Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire, written in collaboration with Peter Handke and based on Wenders's reading of Rilke, posits two sad and sober trench coat–clad angels whose beat is Berlin. Played by Bruno Ganz, at his most intensely human, and Otto Sander, these seraphim receive the thoughts of the humans among whom they mingle. Unseen, but not entirely unnoticed, and with a tender gravity, they cradle, comfort, bear witness, relish absurdity, cherish thoughts. The soundtrack is abuzz with the collective stream-of-consciousness of a city, while Henri Alékan's camera glides through the ether separating Heaven and Earth as easily as Sacha Vierny's sashays through time in Last Year at Marienbad. Among the mortals the angels encounter are an aging writer absorbed in memories of a devastated Germany; an actor (Peter Falk) on location shooting a film about the Nazi era; and a lovely, lonely trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin) for whom Ganz's angel finally falls. Heaven can wait.

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