Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Sky Over Berlin

Der Himmel uber Berlin (Wings Of Desire) (1987)
directed by Wim Wenders

More people beleive in Angels, than in God, its a curious fact. It may not be true, or be a fact which has just followed me. I polled three difference classrooms over the years, highschool through college, same every time. Maybe its something to do with people liking nurses more than doctors, an immediate helping hand, to a distant voice of authority, a nurse with a smile and medicine, instead of the doctor with the bad news and the bill. "The Sky Over Berlin"(Wings Of Desire, is the hookey US title, not translation) is the only film I have ever seen to give a truly 3rd person view, a Gods Eye POV. The story is of two Angels, who observe(from always elevated camera angels), the lives and thoughts of human biengs. Most of the film is from this first person black and white POV(the humans perspecive is in color), a camera floating over random people, listening into their thoughts(remiscient of REM's "Everybody Hurts" video, except no one dissapears, and this came out first). If your okay with the ultimate form of people watching, being both disembodied and an intimate psychic voyeur, this is great. If you want to see something where alot of stuff happens, watch the Happening, it's okay too.
What does happen is few and far between, the angels talk a little, their conversations are like poems, they stand next to or press their hands against miserable people making them brighten and become less narrow for a monent(it doesnt always work), and become enamoured with mortals. One angel makes repeat visits to a small circus to watch an acrobat, who may have to quit working at the circus soon and go back to bieng a waitress til same time next year. She loves bieng on high and is afraid of falling in a number of ways, her thoughts have a quality similar to the way the angels speak to one another. The Angel is afraid/excited with the idea of descending to the world as well, his fascination with her makes sense.
If this is begining to sound familiar its because this was remade in the 90's with Nicolas Cage as "City Of Angels", but is otherwise a completely different movie, and besides this one has performances from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, and that one has Meg Ryan.
As for why there are so many musical performances, well the last song, he plays is called "From Her To Eternity' I had never heard it before, but the chorus was loud enough for me to hear that phrase, again and again. I got the message, ya know the expression, music is the langauge of the soul.
The structure is basically linear though, we follow the angel around, his thoughts are the thoughts of whoever he crosses, there is a subplot involving Peter Falk, playing Peter Falk as an actor in berlin shooting a film, strangers call him Columbo, he thinks about Colombo's lack of wearing a hat, maybe he shouldnt wear one in this new movie too. He seems aware of the angels presence, as we are made aware he is an actor in a movie. He tells a boy his book about their being two hitlers is absurd, when the boy tells him his detective movie is silly to, he responds "yeah but people will bend over backwards for a detective story". Some fantasies, however silly, we want. This movie is one of them. The themes of the beauty the most trivial moments of life, is cleverly and clearly displayed. But to me this made just as much sense as a movie about lonliness, and being an observer, a person always on the outside of things looking in, and deciding to take a dive into the imperfect world of other people, as it did anything else. Theres a childrens book I like called the Shy Creatures.About a little who never speaks in class, tells her teacher she wants to be a doctor, to big foot, loch ness and other imaginary beasts(should they stub their toes, or catch colds), who are not really monsters at all, just incredibly shy like her, which is why they always keep out of view, and in the shadows. The Sky Over Berlin, is basically that story for adults. The Sky Over Berlin is a beautiful, funny, original, and adventerous movie, thats fascinating to think about, and a joy to watch. Warm, fuzzy, and meditative.

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