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Classic Wenders: wistful and dreamy in black and white,
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This review is from: Alice In The Cities  [DVD] (DVD)
Made in 1973 (not '74 as they all say!) this is classic Wim Wenders - a black and white road movie, with the main character (Vogler) adrift and without much purpose, in a world of sleazy hotels, roadside eatieries, 70s music and Americana. Quite a bit of Americana - it all starts in the US, where Vogler is supposed to write a story about being on the road in America. But all he does is take lots of polaroids and scribble notes; so he misses his deadline, runs out of money, and has to fly back to Germany. Because of a strike there are no flights, and while booking flight to Amsterdam he meets 9-year old Alice and her mother; he helps them out with the language, and before you know it the mother has left Alice in his care, and they'll hook up later in Europe. Two quite different characters are on the road, in the cities, and chasing various goals: Alice's gran, their dreams, and a goal in life. Against a grainy backdrop of seventies townscapes and industry two reluctant co-travellers are on a vague quest, and discover ... well, I don't want to spoil it.
This is a wistful movie, with stunning imagery: Lowry, for instance, in the loneliness of travel in the USA. Wenders worked with Robby Muller for many movies, and you can see why - long, leisurely shots, wide angles, strange details lifted out. It is very much in line with his later Paris, Texas, but I prefer this: warmer, more innocence, loving. Vogler is great as the traveller without a purpose, but Yella Rottlander as young Alice is pretty wonderful, too. And the German backdrop, a slowly disappearing old Europe, is melancholy but beautiful in a strange way. There is some of Wings of desire in here, too.
Wenders has said that 'Alice' was "actually... the most important film of my life... and I projected everything onto Rudiger (Vogler) that one can project, as a director... into a main role... mein altes Ego!"
A very laid-back movie. Not all that much happens, and what happens can be pretty aimless; but if it leaves you with a warm a feeling it left me, than you'll agree that there is not much to beat classic Wenders.