Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day Thirty-One: Wings of Desire (1987) - Rank 4/5

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Wim Winder's poignant love story is nothing short of visually entrancing and spiritually movie. From the first appearance by the winged angel Damiel (played by a pensive Bruno Ganz) to the revelation of the world of the living through vividness of color, "Wings of Desire" (aka "Der Himmel ├╝ber Berlin") is a gorgeous spectacle to behold. Ganz's Damiel spends his life roaming from one human to the next, listening in on their thoughts, be they regrets or desires. Through this voyeuristic approach to introspection, he and others like him endeavor to understand the world around them. This is a marvelous touch, for it humbles the role of angels. Rather than the winged and halo-topped deification of saints, they're practically human, pondering the same great questions about life and love that we humans contemplate. They merely exist on a different plane is all.

When Damiel spies a trapeze artist at a circus, he comes to a difficult decision: should he remain immortal but separated from the target of his affection or does he give up his ethereal existence to pursue a love that may not reciprocate his feelings. It's truly a tender and endearing story that feels very much like a relic from a bygone era of filmmaking, when the resonations of the heart dominated scripts rather than romantic comedies with poor attempts at lovesick repartee. While the film's wistful nature is what draws you in to Winders' black-and-white world, it occasionally becomes to ponderous for its own good, slowing the pacing. However, even at its most sluggish moments (which are few, I will point out), the cinematography is still exquisite enough to keep you entranced.

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