Wings of Desire  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über 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, 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 colour and a sepia-toned black-and-white, the latter being used to represent the world as seen by the angels. The cast includes Otto Sander, Curt Bois and Peter Falk.

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. In 1990, numerous critics named Wings of Desire as one of the best films of the 1980s.

Plot

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 dreams of an "epic of peace". Cassiel follows the old man as he looks for the then-demolished 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, until she receives the news that her group, the Circus Alekan, will be closing down. Depressed, she dances alone to the music of Crime & the City Solution, and drifts through the city.

Meanwhile, actor 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 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. [[File:GWT 39, Boyenstraße im Juni 1989.jpg|left|thumb|The graffiti on the Berlin Wall is depicted in the film.]]

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 she greets him and speaks about finally finding a love that is serious and can make her feel complete. 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.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Wings of Desire" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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