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Leon - without the guns, bullets, explosions, murders, etc, etc,
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This review is from: Alice In The Cities  [DVD] (DVD)
Early Wim Wenders is like marmite, you either enjoy how the characters are slowly developed before your eyes, the ponderous photography, the disjointed dialog with moments of profundity, the way that the first third does not know what the film is about or where it is going. I watched this with my family and it was a battle to get them to carry on watching it, though by the end they did all agree they quite liked the later parts.
I love early Wenders films and I have seen most of them over the years. This is not one of the very best, but for the fan there is much to enjoy.
There is a typical Wenders protaginist, Rudiger Vogler a Wenders regular. He is a writer, running out of money and late with his story about America. He loves the idea of America but cannot cope with the banality of the reality. Heading back to Germany he ends up with the young Yella Rottlander and does his best to help her get home. The tight wound Vogler gradually regains his humanity, humour and desire to write.
Although the photography is by another Wenders regular Robby Muller the film stock was not high resolution, so some wonderful majestic pans turn out rather grainy. The film loves real cities, and includes lengthy pans or shots from vehicles. There is the usual deft soundtrack of lesser known classic American tracks. The instrumental sound track is credited to Can (one of my all time favourite bands) but it is actually Irmin Schmidt and Michael Karoli, so it lacks the joyous basslines of Holger Czukay. The soundtrack is effective and unobtrusive.
The real strength of the film is Yella Rottlander giving a wonderfully natural performance as a child who relies on her basic good nature and a little guile to craft Vogler into someone who is not only capable but keen to help her. This is one of the few films that uses a child as a real and active character. Their interplay is touching and amusing, as they come to acknowledge the other as their equal with something to teach them.
This is a decent series of discs by Axiom, attractively packaged in a uniform style, a few interviews are included here as extras. Interestingly Axiom have to date omitted to include some 'obvious' early Wenders, for example the Goal Keeper's Fear of the Penalty and Hammett, but I found the former unduly bleak and the latter unduly disjointed. They have chosen wisely in assembling a welcome collection of these thoughtful, beautiful and humane films.