Wings of Desire


2h 8m 1987
Wings of Desire

Brief Synopsis

An angel of death gives up his wings for love.

Film Details

Also Known As
Der Himmel über Berlin, Himmel över Berlin, Himmel über Berlin, Les ailes du désir, Sky Over Berlin, The, ailes du désir
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Fantasy
Experimental
Foreign
Release Date
1987
Production Company
Road Movies Filmproduktion; Seifert & White; Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Wdr)
Distribution Company
JANUS FILMS/ORION CLASSICS; Janus Films; Orion Classics; Orion Home Video; Recorded Releasing Company
Location
Berlin, West Germany

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 8m

Synopsis

Damiel is an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams of all the people living below. But when he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist, he is willing to give up his immortality and come back to earth to be with her.

Cast

Bruno Ganz

Damiel

Solveig Dommartin

Marion

Otto Sander

Cassiel

Curt Bois

Homer

Peter Falk

Himself

Lajos Kovacs

Marion'S Coach (At The Circus)

Bruno Rosaz

Clown (At The Circus)

Laurent Petitgand

Bandleader (At The Circus)

Chico Rojo Ortega

Drummer (At The Circus)

Otto Kuhnle

Juggler (At The Circus)

Christoph Merg

Juggler (At The Circus)

Peter Werner

Manager (At The Circus)

Hans Martin Stier

Dying Man (At The Circus)

Elmar Wilms

Sad Man (At The Circus)

Sigurd Rachman

Suicide (At The Circus)

Beatrice Manowski

Young Prostitute (At The Circus)

Susanne Vierkotter

Paul Busch

Karin Busch

Irene Mossinger

Teresa Harder

Angel (At The Public Library)

Bernard Eisenschitz

Angel (At The Public Library)

Daniella Nasincova

Angel (At The Public Library)

Scott Kirby

Angel (At The Public Library)

Didier Flamand

Angel (At The Public Library)

Rolf Henke

Angel (At The Public Library)

Franck Glemin

Angel (At The Public Library)

Jerry Barrish

Director (At The Air Raid Shelter)

Jeanette Pollak

Wardrobe Lady (At The Air Raid Shelter)

Christian Bartels

"Hitlerjunge" (At The Air Raid Shelter)

David Crome

Assistant Director (At The Air Raid Shelter)

Kathe Furstenwerth

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Werner Schonrock

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Bernd Ramien

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Erika Rabau

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Silvia Blagojeva Itscherenska

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Sultan Meral

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Olivier Picot

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Jochen Gliscinsky

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Erich Schupke

(At The Air Raid Shelter)

Margarete Hafner

(In Her Apartment)

Oliver Herder

(In His Apartment)

Margitta Haberland

(In Her Apartment)

Jurgen Heinrichs

(In His Apartment)

Ralph Strathmann

(In His Apartment)

Walter Ratayszak

(In His Apartment)

Charlotte Oberberg

(In Her Apartment)

Lubinka Kostic

(In Her Apartment)

Gisela Westerboer

(On The Highway)

Andreas Valentin

(On The Highway)

Anne Gerstl

(On The Highway)

Dirk Vogeley

(On The Highway)

Ruth Rischke

(On The Highway)

Family Ayik

(On The Highway)

Simon Bonney

Crime And The City Solution Band Member

Mick Harvey

Bad Seeds Band Member; Crime And The City Solution Band Member

Harry Howard

Crime And The City Solution Band Member

Rowland Howard

Crime And The City Solution Band Member

Kevin Godfrey

Crime And The City Solution Band Member

Nick Cave

Himself

Thomas Wydler

Bad Seeds Band Member

Blixa Bargeld

Bad Seeds Band Member

Roland Wolf

Bad Seeds Band Member

Kid Congo

Bad Seeds Band Member

Denis Rodriguez

Child

Dieta Von Aster

Child

Gustav Geisler

Child

Paul Geisler

Child

Lorenz Geisler

Child

Sladjana Kostic

Child

Benedikt Schumann

Child

Nicolas Roth

Child

Marcus Stenzel

Child

Benjamin Ferchow

Child

Marco Meyer

Child

Mark Leuschner

Child

Tibor Dahlenburg

Child

Lia Harder

Child

Mascha Noak

Child

Vera Butzek

Child

Donald Behrendt

Child

Patric Kreuzer

Simone Sager

Gerdi Hoffmann

Ulrike Schirm

Hans Marquardt

Heimke Carl

Klaus Mausolf

Ozyer Husinye

Jean-claude Lezin

Thierry Noir

Matthias Maass

Henry Luczkow

Patrick Kreuzer

Nick Cave

Self

Rowland S Howard

Peter Falk

Self

Crew

Henri Alekan

Dp/Cinematographer

Henri Alekan

Director Of Photography

Laurie Anderson

Song ("Angel Fragments")

Axel Arft

Sound Mixer

Peter C Arnold

Additional Photography

Klemens Becker

Helicopter Photography

Frank-guido Blasberg

Additional Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Peter Braatz

Additional Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Louis Cochet

Assistant (To Henri Alekan)

Anatole Dauman

Producer

Claire Denis

Assistant Director

Hartmut Eichgrun

Sound Rerecording

Bernard Eisenschitz

Adaptation

Bernard Eisenschitz

Screenplay

Detlev Fichtner

Sound Processing

Brigitte Friedlander-rodriguez

Wardrobe

Franck Glemin

Production Assistant

Agnfs Godard

Camera Operator

Peter Handke

Screenwriter

Anne Head

Adaptation

Anne Head

Screenplay

Regina Huyer

Makeup

Monika Jacobs

Costume Designer

Scott Kirby

Production Assistant

Jurgen Knieper

Music

Dieter Koschorrek

Bird Wrangler

Lajos Kovacs

Choreography (Trapeze)

Lajos Kovacs

Trapeze Coach

Klaus Krieger

Helicopter Photography

Martin Kukula

Additional Photography

Claude Lalanne

Sculptor

Fritz Lehmann

Front Projectionist

Viktor Leitenbauer

Makeup

Heidi Ludi

Production Designer

Lothar Mankiewicz

Sound Processing

Gabi Mattnew

Script Supervisor

Uli Mayer

Opening Credits

Werner Mooser

Production Designer Assistant

Jean-paul Mugel

Sound Mixer

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Song Performer

Thierry Noir

Other

Laurent Petitgand

Music (Circus)

Laurent Petitgand

Song ("Les Filles Du Calvaire")

Peter Przygodda

Editor

Richard Reitinger

Screenwriter

Leni Savietto-putz

Assistant Editor

Wolfgang Schmidt

Front Projectionist

Anne Schnee

Assistant Editor

Chris Sievernich

Production Consultant

Irmtraud Simon

Wardrobe

Jost Van Der Velden

Sculptor

Susanne Vierkotter

Stand-In (Solveig Dommartin)

Joachim Von Mengershausen

Associate Producer

Esther Walz

Set Decorator

Wim Wenders

Screenwriter

Wim Wenders

Dialogue

Wim Wenders

Producer

Ingrid Windisch

Executive Producer

Knut Winkler

2nd Assistant Director

Ulla Zwicker

Assistant (To Wim Wenders)

Film Details

Also Known As
Der Himmel über Berlin, Himmel över Berlin, Himmel über Berlin, Les ailes du désir, Sky Over Berlin, The, ailes du désir
MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Fantasy
Experimental
Foreign
Release Date
1987
Production Company
Road Movies Filmproduktion; Seifert & White; Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Wdr)
Distribution Company
JANUS FILMS/ORION CLASSICS; Janus Films; Orion Classics; Orion Home Video; Recorded Releasing Company
Location
Berlin, West Germany

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 8m

Articles

Wings of Desire


German director Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (1987), which translates to "Heaven over Berlin" in Wenders' native tongue, is a contemporary fable of two angels watching over life in modern Berlin. In Wenders' hip, cosmopolitan story the two middle aged angels Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are an art film variation on the "average Joe" angel of It's a Wonderful Life (1946). The angels wear ponytails and amble through the city full of lonely, pain-wracked, anxious citizens, offering comfort to women in labor and suicidal men. In the words of The New York Times's film critic Janet Maslin, the angels are "like so many existential Clark Kents...mild-mannered, all-seeing individuals poised to assist those in need."

The angels offer solace and silent comfort to the residents of the city to whom they are invisible. The only people able to see the angels are children. But angel Damiel longs for a more intense involvement with human joy and pain. He is inspired to seek mortality by an American actor (Peter Falk) in town to shoot a World War II movie and Marion, a beautiful trapeze artist at a French circus, the Alekan, named for Wings of Desire's cinematographer. Damiel soon becomes infatuated by Marion (played by Solveig Dommartin, Wenders' real life companion) and contemplates becoming a mortal, a process that occupies the movie's second half.

Wings of Desire is a thoughtful visual poem touching on ideas of mortality, existence and time. Though it takes place in a divided Germany, separated by the Berlin Wall, the film seems a prescient look into the future, only two years away, when the two Germanys would finally reunite. Because filming of the actual Berlin Wall was forbidden, several replica walls had to be built to stand in its place. When one of the replica walls warped in a rainstorm, the filmmakers quickly learned it had been created hastily and cheaply from wood.

Wings of Desire was Wenders' return to West Germany and an expression of the unique beauty of the country after seven years in America indulging his American pop culture fixations while making Hammett: The State of Things (1982) and Paris, Texas (1984).

Wenders grew up on American movies and especially loved B-movie melodramas and Westerns. Before he attended Munich's Academy of Film and Television, Wenders had studied both philosophy and medicine. He began his film career writing film criticism. Wenders' obsessive film interests can be gleaned in his first English-language film The American Friend (1977) in which he cast a bevy of cult film luminaries including Dennis Hopper and directors Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller. Bruno Ganz also appeared in the film, which he regarded as one of his favorites, and once came to blows with Hopper over acting technique while working on the film. Wenders later co-directed with Nicholas Ray the latter's candid film portrait of himself, Lightning Over Water (1980). It was not Wenders' last collaboration with another director. In 1995, Wenders co-directed Beyond the Clouds with Italian art house auteur Michelangelo Antonioni.

Wings of Desire also signaled Wenders' turn away from films fixated on alienation, to films centered on romance and the spiritual.

Part of the film's magical, fairy tale ambiance was undoubtedly due in part to 79-year-old cinematographer Henri Alekan, who is best remembered for his exquisite camerawork in Jean Cocteau's fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (1946) and who also worked with Charlie Chaplin and Abel Gance. Alekan's approach to Wings of Desire's atmosphere was unique. He created its distinct ambiance by shooting through a filter made from his grandmother's stockings.

Wings of Desire's ultimate success may have come from its ability to somehow bridge a divide between art house fare and commercial, Hollywood film and reach a large, diverse audience. Wenders was named Best Director at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Part of the film's exquisite, global aura also came from a soundtrack peppered with songs from an eclectic batch of performers including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (who also appear in the film) and Laurie Anderson.

A sequel to Wings of Desire, Faraway, So Close (1993) was less successful though it did garner Wenders a Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Hollywood eventually remade Wings of Desire in 1998, as City of Angels starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.

The Peter Falk role in Wings of Desire, considered one of the most unique aspects of the film, was not cast until fairly late in the film's pre-production phase. Wenders wanted someone iconic for the role and imagined using a painter, writer, politician or musician in the part. Wenders' assistant Claire Denis eventually came up with the idea of using Peter Falk, an actor whose role on the television series Columbo made him instantly recognizable to a large portion of the film-going audience. Wenders was also a fan of Falk from his days as part of the tight cadre of actors who worked with innovative Seventies filmmaker John Cassavetes. In his days working with Cassavetes, Falk was used to not working with a script, and so he didn't balk when Wenders told him he had not yet created Falk's character, despite the fact that the movie was already in production.

To prepare for his part as a former angel-turned-actor, Falk and Wenders spent a weekend together in Germany developing the role, which led to some of the improvisation-inspired moments in the film like the scene of Falk trying to choose a hat to wear. The director also incorporated Falk's habit of sketching in between takes.

Falk's voice-over internal monologue was actually shot after the actor had left Germany. Those inner thoughts, also improvised by Falk, were recorded in an L.A. sound studio with Wenders directing Falk over the telephone.

Director: Wim Wenders
Producer: Wim Wenders, Anatole Dauman
Screenplay: Wim Wenders, Peter Handke
Cinematography: Henri Alekan
Production Design: Heidi Ludi
Music: Jurgen Knieper
Cast: Bruno Ganz (Damiel), Solveig Dommartin (Marion), Otto Sander (Cassiel), Curt Bois (Homer), Peter Falk (Himself).
BW-127m. Letterboxed.

by Felicia Feaster
Wings Of Desire

Wings of Desire

German director Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (1987), which translates to "Heaven over Berlin" in Wenders' native tongue, is a contemporary fable of two angels watching over life in modern Berlin. In Wenders' hip, cosmopolitan story the two middle aged angels Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are an art film variation on the "average Joe" angel of It's a Wonderful Life (1946). The angels wear ponytails and amble through the city full of lonely, pain-wracked, anxious citizens, offering comfort to women in labor and suicidal men. In the words of The New York Times's film critic Janet Maslin, the angels are "like so many existential Clark Kents...mild-mannered, all-seeing individuals poised to assist those in need." The angels offer solace and silent comfort to the residents of the city to whom they are invisible. The only people able to see the angels are children. But angel Damiel longs for a more intense involvement with human joy and pain. He is inspired to seek mortality by an American actor (Peter Falk) in town to shoot a World War II movie and Marion, a beautiful trapeze artist at a French circus, the Alekan, named for Wings of Desire's cinematographer. Damiel soon becomes infatuated by Marion (played by Solveig Dommartin, Wenders' real life companion) and contemplates becoming a mortal, a process that occupies the movie's second half. Wings of Desire is a thoughtful visual poem touching on ideas of mortality, existence and time. Though it takes place in a divided Germany, separated by the Berlin Wall, the film seems a prescient look into the future, only two years away, when the two Germanys would finally reunite. Because filming of the actual Berlin Wall was forbidden, several replica walls had to be built to stand in its place. When one of the replica walls warped in a rainstorm, the filmmakers quickly learned it had been created hastily and cheaply from wood. Wings of Desire was Wenders' return to West Germany and an expression of the unique beauty of the country after seven years in America indulging his American pop culture fixations while making Hammett: The State of Things (1982) and Paris, Texas (1984). Wenders grew up on American movies and especially loved B-movie melodramas and Westerns. Before he attended Munich's Academy of Film and Television, Wenders had studied both philosophy and medicine. He began his film career writing film criticism. Wenders' obsessive film interests can be gleaned in his first English-language film The American Friend (1977) in which he cast a bevy of cult film luminaries including Dennis Hopper and directors Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller. Bruno Ganz also appeared in the film, which he regarded as one of his favorites, and once came to blows with Hopper over acting technique while working on the film. Wenders later co-directed with Nicholas Ray the latter's candid film portrait of himself, Lightning Over Water (1980). It was not Wenders' last collaboration with another director. In 1995, Wenders co-directed Beyond the Clouds with Italian art house auteur Michelangelo Antonioni. Wings of Desire also signaled Wenders' turn away from films fixated on alienation, to films centered on romance and the spiritual. Part of the film's magical, fairy tale ambiance was undoubtedly due in part to 79-year-old cinematographer Henri Alekan, who is best remembered for his exquisite camerawork in Jean Cocteau's fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (1946) and who also worked with Charlie Chaplin and Abel Gance. Alekan's approach to Wings of Desire's atmosphere was unique. He created its distinct ambiance by shooting through a filter made from his grandmother's stockings. Wings of Desire's ultimate success may have come from its ability to somehow bridge a divide between art house fare and commercial, Hollywood film and reach a large, diverse audience. Wenders was named Best Director at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. Part of the film's exquisite, global aura also came from a soundtrack peppered with songs from an eclectic batch of performers including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (who also appear in the film) and Laurie Anderson. A sequel to Wings of Desire, Faraway, So Close (1993) was less successful though it did garner Wenders a Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. Hollywood eventually remade Wings of Desire in 1998, as City of Angels starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. The Peter Falk role in Wings of Desire, considered one of the most unique aspects of the film, was not cast until fairly late in the film's pre-production phase. Wenders wanted someone iconic for the role and imagined using a painter, writer, politician or musician in the part. Wenders' assistant Claire Denis eventually came up with the idea of using Peter Falk, an actor whose role on the television series Columbo made him instantly recognizable to a large portion of the film-going audience. Wenders was also a fan of Falk from his days as part of the tight cadre of actors who worked with innovative Seventies filmmaker John Cassavetes. In his days working with Cassavetes, Falk was used to not working with a script, and so he didn't balk when Wenders told him he had not yet created Falk's character, despite the fact that the movie was already in production. To prepare for his part as a former angel-turned-actor, Falk and Wenders spent a weekend together in Germany developing the role, which led to some of the improvisation-inspired moments in the film like the scene of Falk trying to choose a hat to wear. The director also incorporated Falk's habit of sketching in between takes. Falk's voice-over internal monologue was actually shot after the actor had left Germany. Those inner thoughts, also improvised by Falk, were recorded in an L.A. sound studio with Wenders directing Falk over the telephone. Director: Wim Wenders Producer: Wim Wenders, Anatole Dauman Screenplay: Wim Wenders, Peter Handke Cinematography: Henri Alekan Production Design: Heidi Ludi Music: Jurgen Knieper Cast: Bruno Ganz (Damiel), Solveig Dommartin (Marion), Otto Sander (Cassiel), Curt Bois (Homer), Peter Falk (Himself). BW-127m. Letterboxed. by Felicia Feaster

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Began shooting November 1986.

Released in United States September 1996 (Shown in New York City (Anthology Film Archives) as part of program "Best of the Indies" September 5-15, 1996.)

Released in United States Spring April 29, 1988

Released in United States May 1988

Re-released in United States December 2, 1991

Limited re-release in United States October 19, 2018

Released in United States on Video August 31, 1989

Released in United States November 1987

Released in United States 1988

Released in United States March 26, 1988

Released in United States July 7, 1990

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States September 1996

Shown at London Film Festival November 1987.

Shown at Washington DC International Film Festival April 20- May 1, 1988.

Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival March 26, 1988.

Shown at Pacific Film Archive (A Producer's Vision: Anatole Dauman) in Berkeley, California July 7, 1990.

Released in United States Spring April 29, 1988

Released in United States May 1988 (Los Angeles)

Re-released in United States December 2, 1991 (New York City)

Limited re-release in United States October 19, 2018 (New York)

Released in United States on Video August 31, 1989

Released in United States November 1987 (Shown at London Film Festival November 1987.)

Released in United States 1988 (Shown at Washington DC International Film Festival April 20- May 1, 1988.)

Released in United States March 26, 1988 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival March 26, 1988.)

Released in United States July 7, 1990 (Shown at Pacific Film Archive (A Producer's Vision: Anatole Dauman) in Berkeley, California July 7, 1990.)

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in Los Angeles (American Cinematheque) as part of program "The Long & Winding Road: The Films of Wim Wenders" September 27 - October 12, 1996.)