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Wings of Desire (1987) Review

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Matt Sarnoff

History of Cinematography III

Wings of Desire (1987)

This film, directed by Wim Wenders and shot by Henri Alekan, tells a story of an angel, who

watches other people’s lives in West Berlin. Shot is late 80’s, this film has an unique looks and

feel that creates a specific atmosphere that follows the main characters of this film. The

protagonist, angel named Damiel is observing people with his friend, angel Cassiel. The angels

are invisible to most people, although children can see Damiel. As an angel he also is capable

of getting at any place he wants, be it at the top of the skyscraper or at a closed location. During

the film he watches as the times goes by in the library, on a film set, in a circus rehearsals and

performances. He falls in love with Marion, a performer at the circus. The angel listens to her

thoughts and that makes his reconsider his own life and values. Damiel also interacts with a film

actor Peter Falk, who turns out to be a former angel himself. After continuous contemplation

Damiel decides to become human once and for all, thus loosing immortality and all other his sub

natural abilities. After the transformation he is able to see colorful world, also get injured and

drink coffee like he saw people do many times. Ultimately, he is able to find Marion and tell her

about his feelings.

Wings of Desire is rather unusual film that deals with people’s feelings from a rather unexpected

perspective. Mortal people’s life is viewed from point of view of someone who is initially beyond

these human sufferings, however, observing angels are also involved in the film’s story. The

message of the film tells us that love is powerful enough to unite who people who are not meant

to be together even at those hard times when Berlin is separated by the wall and people’s life is

constrained because of crisis.

From a cinematography perspective this film has a definite standpoint. Starting with black and

white, it looks like it is going to be black and white film. As the time passes we learn that it is




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