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Not as terrible as some would have you believe.
on 20 October 2002
Wings of Desire is held up with Paris, Texas (1984) as Wenders's finest moment. This sequel, I feel, has been judged too harshly by some. The 'To Be Continued' at the end of Wings of Desire surely would have led you to expect it? Faraway, so Close! is flawed and has some boring and/or silly moments- though I think the same can be levelled at the latter parts of Wings of Desire (when Damiel comes to earth, for example). It's an interesting flip-side to Wings of Desire, FSC! being set after the Berlin Wall has fallen and reunifcation of East & West Germany has occurred (a complete antithesis to the Berlin of WOD, where the Wall dominates).
The story focuses on Cassiel, who follows Damiel into the mortal realm and finds it hard to fit in with the interference of Willem Defoe's Emil Flesti (Time Itself)- this is a bit pretentious and the action scenes at the end don't really work. There are great things about FSC!: the soundtrack (U2, House of Love, Lou Reed, Nick Cave/Barry Adamson), Nastassia Kinski, Damiel & Marion, the cameos (Peter Falk again, Mikhail Gorbachev, Lou Reed), the return of Philip Winter as a character (see Until the End/Alice in the Cities/Lisbon Story/Kings of the Road- the latter he is Bruno Winter!), the scene where a newspaper floats past Cassiel's head detailing the death of Willy Brandt, the scene from the Nazi era and the final scene as the survivors float away from Berlin on a barge (reminiscent of Vigo's L'atalante).
The good moments far outweigh the bad/dull, not many films can measure up to Wings of Desire- to which this is an extension with enough to warrant its existence. I particularly liked the sewer scenes, where beneath the modern reunified Berlin lies arms from the Nazi era- this reminded me of The Third Man. Another film this recalled was Three Colours: White, which looked at the new capitalism (everything/anything is for sale) in post-Communist Poland and in many ways can be viewed as a companion to this from the realm of European Cinema.
Faraway, So Close! is a good film with excellent moments, though it is far from the best of Wenders in the 1990's- which I feel can be seen in The Buena Vista Social Club, The Lisbon Story & Until the End of the World.