Wings of Desire

May 6th, 1988


Wings of Desire

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An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.

Release Year: 1987

Rating: 8.0/10 (25,366 voted)

Critic's Score: 79/100

Director: Wim Wenders

Stars: Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander

This Wim Wenders film centers around the story of two angels wandering in a mixture of post-war and modern Berlin. Invisible to humans, they nevertheless give their help and comfort to all the lonely and depressed souls they meet. Finally, after many centuries, one of the angels becomes unhappy with his immortal state and wishes to become human in order to experience the joys of everyday life. He meets a circus acrobat and finds in her the fufillment of all his mortal desires. He also discovers that he is not alone in making this cross over, and that a purely spiritual experience is not enough to satisfy anyone.

Writers: Wim Wenders, Peter Handke

Bruno Ganz - Damiel
Solveig Dommartin - Marion
Otto Sander - Cassiel
Curt Bois - Homer, the aged poet
Peter Falk - Der Filmstar
Hans Martin Stier - In weiteren Rollen - Der Sterbende
Elmar Wilms - In weiteren Rollen - Ein trauriger Mann
Sigurd Rachman - In weiteren Rollen - Der Selbstmörder
Beatrice Manowski - In weiteren Rollen - Das Strichmädchen
Lajos Kovács - Im Zirkus - Marion's Trainer
Bruno Rosaz - Im Zirkus - Der Clown
Laurent Petitgand - Im Zirkus - Der Kapellmeister
Chick Ortega - Im Zirkus - Der Schlagzeuger (as Chico Rojo Ortega)
Otto Kuhnle - Im Zirkus - Die Jongleure
Christoph Merg - Im Zirkus - Der Jongleure

Taglines: There are angels on the streets of Berlin.

Release Date: 6 May 1988

Filming Locations: Berlin, Germany

Gross: $3,806,540 (USA) (20 September 1998) (re-issue)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Circus Alekan is named after cinematographer Henri Alekan.

Revealing mistakes: During the scene at the snack cart, Peter Falk let his cigarette drop from his fingers without appearing to notice.

[first lines]
[in German, using English subtitles]
Damiel: [voiceover] When the child was a child, it walked with its arms swinging. It wanted the stream to be a river, the river a torrent, and this puddle to be the sea. When the child was a child, it didn't know it was a child. Everything was full of life, and all life was one. When the child was a child, it had no opinion about anything, no habits. It often sat cross-legged, took off running, had a cowlick in its hair, and didn't make faces when photographed.

User Review

One of the greatest movies of the late 20th century

Rating: 10/10

There are so many comments written about this movie, I almost don't want to write anything - but here I am anyway :)

Though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it disturbs me to read negative comments that WOD is 'too slow' or that Wenders should have been a still life photographer. I think that some people are missing the point of this movie. Wenders filmed this after having been part of the Hollywood machine for several years, and had grown sick of the cookie cutter films that were (and still are) being made in that tradition to produce ticket sales. Yes, this movie doesn't have loads of action and car chase scenes and guns and sex. It does offer some interesting perspectives. The consistent third person view and 'objectification' of the viewer is one aspect. Watching WOD, you don't feel the typical draw into the movie as so often is the case, but rather are a bystander, looking through a window, with your own thoughts and ideas a part of the movie, not the other way around. WOD doesn't allow you to become a subjective part of the film; it 'pushes' you away from empathizing. Even the camera angles and shots motivate this sentiment. The goal and direction of the film are presented without struggle or thought; you know that Damiel wants to be with Marion. He tells Cassiel this, and the only question is - how will he achieve this goal?

WOD belies a sense of traditional film-making. Peter Falk is presented as perhaps the 'idea' of history as fans call out 'Colombo!' The angels are bound to Berlin, existing in a purgatory neither heaven or hell, unable to communicate. The trapeze artist from a traveling circus representing freedom - not only freedom from an everyday lifestyle, but also the key to Damiel's freedom. This movie contains so many interesting ideas and perspectives, that when watched with an open, curious mind, it is fascinating, mesmerizing, calming and inspirational. Filmed entirely in Berlin, the city is not a traditional definition of beautiful. But the industrial, modernist, post WW II reconstructed Berlin is stunning and diverse, providing the perfect background for this modern classic. I cannot recommend this movie enough. But please watch it with open eyes. In the same sense you cannot listen to the music of Schoenberg or Stravinsky as you would Mozart, you cannot watch Wings of Desire as you would a Spielberg movie.


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