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Wings Of Desire [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Curt Bois, Solvieg Dommartin, Peter Falk, Bruno Ganz, Otto Sander
  • Directors: Wim Wenders
  • Producers: Wim Wenders, Anatole Dauman
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Axiom
  • DVD Release Date: 28 July 2008
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015FWJSA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,608 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

In this film written and directed by Wim Wenders, Bruno Ganz plays Daniel, one of two angels who watch over the citizens of Berlin, listening to their thoughts. When he falls in love with a trapeze artist (Solvieg Dommartin), he dreams of becoming human. With the help of an American actor (Peter Falk, playing himself), in Berlin to make a film about the war, Daniel achieves his desire. The film was remade in 1998 as 'City of Angels' starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.


"There are angels over the streets of Berlin," quotes the movie poster, but these are like no angels you've ever seen. Bundled in dark overcoats, they watch over the city with ears open to the heartbeat of the human soul, listening to the internal musings and yearnings of earthbound humans like existential detectives. In these delicate, astounding scenes we float through the thoughts of dozens of Berlin citizens, from the weary and worn to the hopeful and young, as the angels record the magic moments for some heavenly record. When Damiel (the empathic and sensitive Bruno Ganz) falls in love with an angel of another sort, the lonely trapeze artist Marion (willowy, sad-eyed Solveig Dommartin), he gives up the contemplation and observation of life to experience it himself.

Wim Wenders' most purely romantic film is like poetry on celluloid, a celebration of the transient and fragile moments of being human: the warmth of a cup of coffee on a cold day, the embrace of a friend, the touch of a lover, the rapture of love. Opening with an angel's-eye view of Berlin in silvery black and white (delicately captured by the great cinematographer Henri Alekan, who photographed Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast 40 years earlier), it transforms into a gauzy colour world when Damiel "crosses over" by sheer will. Peter Falk plays himself as a fallen angel with a special sensitivity for celestial visitors ("I can't see you, but I know you're there," he proclaims), and Otto Sander, whose smiling eyes brighten a face etched by eons of waiting and watching, is Damiel's partner. Wenders made a sequel in 1993, Faraway, So Close, and Hollywood remade the film as City of Angels with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. --Sean Axmaker, --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Born free on 5 Sep 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of the most stunningly effective films to explore the afterlife and the reasons why we return I have ever seen. Furthermore it is beautiful, engrossing and thought provoking

The film is set in a war scarred Berlin. It shows the world of the spirits - souls - who are shown as trenchcoated pigtailed angels. Their world is eternal, without colour, without emotion, without time. They talk of the events of history in no order, just scenes they have recorded in notebooks. They can be everywhere and nowhere. Their job is to listen to the thoughts of human beings and try to comfort them, and to encourage the efforts humans make to learn and grow [many scenes are shot in a public library where there are large numbers of angels encouraging the `students']. They also listen to and support the peace makers and the philosophers - a number of scenes are of an angel's care for an old man who is both.

But angels cannot interfere or intervene, only come in dreams. There is one dramatic scene of a suicide, where the angel tries to comfort and fails. Only at this point does the angel show any emotion - he simply screams NO........

The story is of one angel who becomes fascinated - not love because an angel does not love - with a beautiful trapeze artist and makes the decision to become mortal. Once mortal he experiences the faults of humans [he is duped over the money he is paid for his angel's coat] but he also experiences love, music, taste, touch, the simple joy of a life, the adventure, the challenge.

A spiritual feast
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Ntshk on 9 Dec 2004
Format: DVD
I love this film and I love it because of so many things. I saw it for the first time when I was a teenager in mid 90s and I was so impressed... I was roaming the streets of Almaty (my home town in Kazakhstan) with my best friend and I asked her: "Do you think angels are walking together with us and collecting the spiritual signs of our existence?' Of course, it was a joke, by what a romantic joke... A longing for something magical that can happen to a mortal...
When you first watch the film, you wonder why Wim Wenders has picked two aging men in long black coats to be angels. That's not how you imagined an angel, after all. However, the further you watch the film, the more you realise that their angelic nature is in the way they look at everything, in their increadible eyes.
When I think about this film I think about all the good that can happen to an ordinary human being. This film highlights the best in all of us and makes us immortal for a short while... And I believe this feeling is worth it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 April 2010
Format: DVD
Why shouldn't we fall in love?
Our hearts are made of it
Let's take a chance, why be afraid of it?

By: Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler

The basic story is of an angle that after recording life falls in love with life, not just the trapezes artist that he eventually wants to meet in the flesh. We get to follow his transition blow by blow, as he attempts to follow his desire.

Peter Falk as Der Filmstar is a catalyst and the glue to the story. I even mention that Colombo did not have a hat.

The film started out unscripted and the directors and writers had to punt. You may notice this as the story improves. There was a partial start script from Paris Texas.

I took a German class or several about the time of this film. Therefore, some of the film language is natural, some, I recognize after the subtitles and some is new. No one slurs the words so this would be a great training film. However, I never made it there so this is as close as I will ever get to 1987 Berlin.
Filmed in:
Berlin, Germany
Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, Berlin, Germany
Potsdamer Platz, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
Siegessäule, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany
Staatsbibliothek, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

The DVD has a great commentary by director Wim Wenders and Peter Falk, which lets you see what is attempted in the film. So did they accomplish what they set out to do?

Watch Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927 documentary) as a contrast.

Also, do not miss what is touts as a sequel but is really a standalone revision of this film.
"Faraway, So Close!" (1993) with Nastassja Kinski

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
Faraway, So Close!
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 3 Oct 2002
Format: DVD
This is probably Wenders' masterpiece, though it followed the equally wondeful Paris, Texas. Wings of Desire was another collaboration with Austrian writer Peter Handke (The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty). Following the key works of the New German Cinema (Kings of the Road, Alice in the Cities), Wenders went to work in America at Coppola's Zoetrope studios- making the problematic Hammett and the reaction The State of Things. Here he returned to Berlin, still divided by the wall which would fall two years later.
The film sits somewhere between It's a Wonderful Life, Rilke's Duino Elegies, The Cure's Just Like Heaven and The Seventh Seal: a metaphysical romance. The lead character is literally Berlin (the German title is 'The Sky Over Berlin); Wenders uses Damiel and Cassiel as two omniscient angels tracking life in 1980's Berlin: observing like a camera. Here we see them listening to people's thoughts in an unforgettable fashion (and this was an influence on REM's video for Everybody Hurts). Damiel sees Marion, a circus acrobat with a penchant for Nick Cave and decides to make the trip from eternity to her (Wenders reversal of Nick Cave's song From Her to Eternity- played here along with The Carny). Along the way he meets Peter Falk as "Peter Falk"- who just happens to be an ex-angel and the film moves back to pre-history and the spectre of the War and Nazism (Falk is making a WWII movie, with those conotations for West Germany- tying it in with such German films as The Marriage of Maria Braun and Mephisto which explore Germany's dark past).
This is pure poetry, as great as the best of Jean Cocteau in terms of transcendental imagery- every scene has resonance: a truly perfect film now restored on DVD.
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