A morning after the night before film that leaves such a deep impression that you wake with your head teeming with images and moments from it. I notice there are one or two reviewers who just "don't get it". I think the deal here is that if you don't have a feel for poetry, that is modern poetry , Baudelaire and after, then this will leave you lost and twitching. This fim is like one of Rilke's Duino Elegies bought to life for the screen. The premise, if you haven't already picked up on it, is that Angels are moving among men and women in Cold War, East Berlin. Invisible except to the occasional child, infinitely benign, but detached observers, they search endlessly for the most exquisite tokens of human expression, frailty and dignity, amid the myriad humdrum acts that constitute their otherwise monotonous lives. The more seeminly fragile and insignificant then the more treasured they are. From time to time the Angels get together to compare notes on the little acts and incidents that have left the deepest impressession on them. The Angels hear the thoughts of all those they move among, and for an extended part of the film's opening, we move with them through streets, tower block apartments and on public transport, randomly sampling the fragmentary thoughts of those they pass, from their most pressingly humdrum anxieties, through to the profoundest of reveries. The resulting stream of consciousness inevitably takes on the character of poetry of the most universal kind. Very gradually a plot emerges which eventually includes twists and revelations, gently comic and breathtakingly profound, that leave one with a stupified grin and a warm trickle inside, just knowing such innocence and purity of vision are still to be found in this life.
I was lucky enough to catch this on TV, but it's one of those films that I just have to turn my friends on to, at least those I know will understand. And I'm very much looking forward to the accompanying commentary from Wenders and Peter Falk, who does such a wonderful job of playing himself, who is playing himself as usual. The feature that floats like a recurring melody over the accompaniment of the whole film is the magnetic gaze of Bruno Ganz set in his beatific face. My wife was quite shocked when I pointed out that this was the same actor who had played Adolf Hitler with such uncanny similitude in Downfall [2004
]. I understand Gollywood did their own bastardisation of this masterpiece, and I must admit that the thought of what Nicholas Cage must have done with this sublime role sends a shudder down my spine. Solveig Dommartin as the existentially self-realised trapeze artist is also riveting.
My question now is do I risk a go at the sequel, Far Away, So Close [1994
], and spoiling it, knowing how fickle and inconsistent Wenders' genius can be?. The guy has created symphonic masterpieces like Paris, Texas [1984
] and the nowhere to be found Iron Earth, Copper Sky. But then he's produced some quite odd turkeys as well. Sometimes he's managed to do both in the same movie, as with Until The End Of The World [1992
], which was so magnificent right up to its strange and silly ending. Anyway, for now I have another chance to immerse myself in the warm poetic bath that is this to look forward to, and the pleasure of sharing it with friends whom I know will `get it'.