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Critics reviews
Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders West Germany, 1987
The first half, especially, as the angels eavesdrop on the unspoken thoughts of Berlin’s subway passengers, library patrons, moony acrobats, and car-crash victims, remains one of cinema’s most exhilarating feats of poetic world-building. Granted, I never feel as fully absorbed by the second hour, which forsakes some panoramic sweep and political resonance.
September 28, 2018
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Once upon a time, half the city of Berlin was a land-locked island. Wim Wenders’s most enduring and atmospheric film, Wings of Desire, first released here 30 years ago, may be the movie that most powerfully evokes the mood of Cold War Berlin (at least on the western side of the Wall).
September 25, 2018
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In the film’s second half, its aesthetic switches from black-and-white contemplation to color fantasy as one angel (again Wenders’ majestically lumpen leading man Ganz) gives up his wings to come to earth and find love with a beautiful trapeze artist. Has a movie ever offered a plainer, more joyous affirmation of earthly wonder than Peter Falk and a cup of hot coffee on a cold day?
November 05, 2015
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With two poignant and enjoyable cameos—Peter Falk and Nick Cave both portray themselves—Wenders’s ethereal masterpiece dazzles along the lines of fantasy and reality.
September 09, 2015
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Wenders manages to capture an ineffable mood, a whole mode of being, with the knowledge that its very ineffability means that it’ll slip through his fingers. It’s gloomy and rapturous, imposingly grand and fleetingly light, all at once.
June 13, 2013
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The reintroduction of color into Wenders’s mise-en-scène is something different altogether, immediate and more powerful. “Is this red?” Damiel asks. After the close up of his bloody hand, the audience, having previously seen Wenders’s Berlin in cold, colorless black-and-white, shares the wonder he feels upon gazing at this color for the first time.
August 20, 2012
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[It’s] a beautiful film in the tradition of the German fairytale and dedicated to the angels and to master directors Yasujiro Ozu, François Truffaut, and Andrei Tarkovsky… WINGS OF DESIRE is a story about time—as longed for by angels, as lived by Berliners, and as experienced by us in watching the film unfold.
July 15, 2011
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As long as Wings of Desire stays aloft on its exhilarating wings of pure possibility, the past of Berlin as well as its present has an undeniable vibrancy and immediacy. Even when the film touches ground, the charismatic earthiness of Falk, the haunted memories of Homer, and the solitude of Marion all give the city some emotional foundation.
July 15, 1988
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In every respect, Wings of Desire is, all up, a beautiful and remarkable movie, and Wenders’ most elaborate concept-metaphor to date.
June 01, 1987
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