Wings of Desire

Movie Information

Genre: Fantasy Drama
Director: Wim Wenders
Starring: Brun Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Peter Falk
Rated: PG-13

Only in the world of a Wim Wenders film would an angel express the desire to go home and read a Philip Marlowe mystery as one of the reasons he’d like to be human. But because that desire is expressed in a Wim Wenders film, it seems completely reasonable. And if that makes sense to you, then you either already know something of Wenders and his films, or you’re likely to be a good candidate for them.

Wenders’ movies don’t exactly zip along, and they tend to be pretty heavy in the symbolism and allegory department — qualities some viewers may find off-putting. They are also frequently not that concerned with telling a story, which is the case with Wings of Desire, a film more about mood, place and theme than narrative.

The premise is that angels are all around us. They record our doings and are able to influence us, but they’re unable to actively participate in our lives, or be seen by us (though occasionally children will see them). It’s also about our ability — through our mere existence — to influence the angels, to make them want to descend from their ethereal selves and experience what we do. And the point of the film is to explore these ideas through a series of encounters — occasionally connected — that are experienced by two particular angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander), especially the former, who wants to become human when he falls in love with a trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin).

Depending on your tastes, you’ll find the film either a beautiful, moving experience, or a slow and pretentious one. One thing you won’t find it is much that’s like anything else, except perhaps another Wenders movie. But Wenders is sufficiently important in modern film, though, that it’s worth finding out for yourself — or possibly even giving the movie a second or third chance.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

[The Hendersonville Film Society will sponsor a showing of Wings of Desire on Sunday, July 24, 2005 at 2 p.m., in the Smoky Mountain Theatre at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to Lake Point Landing entrance and park in lot at left.)]

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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8 thoughts on “Wings of Desire

  1. dhalgren

    This is not even a good plot summary…this hankee guy seems a bit too lowbrow to take on this sort of job.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Makes for a nice change of pace. Usually I’m accused of being too highbrow. I do wonder, though, how a “good plot summary” (a very low form of film writing) equals highbrowness.

  3. dhalgren

    I doubt that. Sometimes it’s not a matter of taste, but a question of soul. So, did you find it to be a beautiful, moving experience, or a slow and pretentious one?

  4. Mehdi

    this is a wonderful movie , no matter what your tastes are, once it poses and questiones the existence of humankind intrinsically it has to attract and hold our interest.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Are you so insecure in your views that you insist that anyone who doesn’t share them is wrong? It holds your interest. It holds mine. It doesn’t hold everyone’s. This can be proved.

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