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Alice In The Cities [1974] [DVD]

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Rudiger Vogler, Yella Rottlander, Elizabeth Kreuzer
  • Directors: Wim Wenders
  • 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: U
  • Studio: Axiom Films International Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 26 May 2008
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0014E916A
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,503 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

One of the key films of the New German Cinema, ALICE IN THE CITIES marked the emergence of Wim Wenders as one of the most distinctive European filmmakers of the 1970s. It is also widely accepted to be one of the director's most poignant films and the first to be shot partly in the United States. Philip Winter, a journalist with writer's block, becomes the guardian of eight year-old Alice (Yella Rottländer) when her mother leaves the girl with him briefly at an American airport, only never to return. Back in Germany, an unlikely friendship develops between the two as they embark on a journey to find Alice's grandmother. Through Rüdiger Vogler's portrayal of the embittered Winter, Wenders presents a stark but witty account of the changing face of Europe, the onset of global consumerism and the influences of American pop culture. Extras: Exclusive in-depth interview with director / Photo Galleries


'More distinctive than intriguing movie that lives in the mind for hours after the lights have come up' **** --Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

'A bittersweet gem...should not be missed' Critics' Choice --Time Out

'One of Wender's crispest, finest moments' --Daily Telegraph

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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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.
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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...
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This film is both a delight and a disappointment. First, the disappointment. For speed & budgetary reasons, ALICE IN THE CITIES was shot on 16mm film stock. Consequently, it's grainy, and lacks the tonal range & sharpness of a remastered DVD from a 35mm source.

Now if you can get past that disappointing aspect of the film (and it's not difficult), then you're in for a treat. This is a wonderful film depicting the relationship between a despondent, near-dysfunctional photographer (Rüdiger Vogler) who has the precocious, self-centered 9-year old Alice (Yella Rottländer) dumped on him. He resents it, but tries to make the best of a bad situation. The film follows the duo around Europe as they try to locate the girl's grandmother. Alice's attempts at manipulation and their frequent clashes eventually give way to a relationship of mutual respect & understanding. Better late than never.

PARIS, TEXAS and ALICE IN THE CITIES are probably Wim Wenders most accessible films. An 'art house' film to be sure, but, unlike some, this won't leave you in the dark, guessing what it was all about. More like a DeSica film -you have to pay attention to get the most out of it, and if you do, you will find the film rewarding.

Although everyone in the cast is excellent, Yella Rottländer merits special mention. She is superb! The best child actress that I've seen since Patricia Gozzi's stunning performance in SUNDAYS & CYBELE (still begging for a remastered DVD release!) -and that's saying a lot! Why these two fine actresses did little after their initial success, is beyond most viewers. A sad case of real talent being wasted.
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