- An outline of the "dying motorcyclist" scene (shots 2059-2068)
- The camera movement in shot 2060
- Wim Wenders and Agnès Godard on shot 2060
- Additional interpretive options
- Works Cited
 and "to seek continually the angel's point of view, the camera becoming his gaze."
For example, the first library scene begins with the camera aimed at the ceiling and slowly tilting downward as it is lowered. The camera then glides horizontally past people reading at tables, and when it passes a woman in an overcoat with her hand resting on the shoulder of someone reading, the woman in the coat turns and nods a greeting toward the camera, at which point Damiel and Cassiel enter the frame as they return her greeting and continue walking past. The woman's nod toward the camera tells us simultaneously that we are seeing through the eyes of an angel and that she herself must also be one. Then Damiel and Cassiel walk into their own point of view, as we realize that it was through their eyes we had been seeing. All of this is done in a single, unforgettable shot, in which purely visual cues both orient us and take us by surprise (shot 1072).
Damiel and Cassiel walking into their own point of view in shot 1072.
The most spectacular example of camera movement as angelic point of view in this film, is undoubtedly the montage sequence (shots 4047-4083), which is introduced by a shot in which Cassiel plunges from the wing of the Victory Statue (4045), after which the camera takes a similar plunge (4046) and we see - through Cassiel's eyes - and in dizzying succession, a cascade of fragmentary urban images, past and present, most of which are quite disturbing,
Camera work of this kind was masterfully orchestrated by veteran cinematographer Henri Alekan, who served as Wenders's director of photography for Wings of Desire. And it is certainly the case that virtually every example of fluid or dramatic camera work in the film can be accounted for in terms of an angel's point of view.
There is, however, an intriguing exception, involving camera movement of an entirely different nature, so original and striking in its form that it can be seen as a new cinematic figure, invented by Wim Wenders to express a specific meaning. Oddly enough, this camera work has not been mentioned by other commentators on the film - not even by those who have discussed the scene in which it is found, and which we will refer to as the "dying motorcyclist" scene.
The present article is devoted to that camera movement, which both Wim Wenders and cinematographer Agnès Godard (who actually shot the footage) graciously agreed to discuss with me in separate interviews that took place in Berlin (July 1993) and Paris (January 1994), respectively.
In the shot with which this scene opens, the mobile camera is of the point of view type already described at the beginning of this article. We see through the eyes of someone gliding rapidly across a bridge, hearing in a whisper the thoughts of a man dying in the gutter on the other side, his back propped up against the curb:
to the top of the page
Shot 2059 (20 sec.) DYING MAN (inner voice): Don't look at me so stupidly. Haven't you seen anyone die before? Shit, is it this easy? I'm lying here in a puddle, stinking like an oil tanker. I can't really end up here like a wilting flower! Everything so clear! Why are they standing there? Gawking at me like that? The oil smudge...
At the end of this shot, the camera bears right and comes to a halt near the dying man, whose crashed motorcycle is lying nearby. The driver of the car that hit him stands there, along with other passersby, looking at him from a distance.
The next shot, 2060, is the one containing the innovative camera movement which is the focus of this article. The shot can be divided into five segments (designated here as 2060 a, b, c, d and e), according to criteria that will be evident as each segment is discussed.
The shot begins with Damiel moving forward toward the dying man; we now understand that it was Damiel who had been gliding across the bridge, and that we were seeing through his eyes. As he approaches the dying man, Damiel kneels behind him, places his hands on either side of the dying man's head, and leans his own head down, listening intently for or tuning into the thoughts trying to form themselves in a deeper layer of the dying man's mind:
Shot 2060a (9 sec.) DYING MAN (Inner voice): Karin, I should have told her yesterday... This thing got out of control. ...I'm so sorry. Karin! Now I'm lying here. I can't simply... I have to... Karin, I still have so much to do! Karin, Baby, things look bad for me.
It is at this point that Damiel begins reciting what is designated in the screenplay as the "invocation of the world" (De Anrufung der Welt), helping the dying man to focus his thoughts on the things that had meant the most to him during his lifetime. As Damiel begins speaking for the dying man, the camera tracks slowly toward the right, panning slightly to keep the two actors within the frame:
Shot 2060b (18 sec.) The camera tracks to the right.
DAMIEL (speaking for the DYING MAN):As I emerged from the valley out of the fog into the sunshine...
The fire at the edge of the prairie...
The potatoes in the ashes...
The boat-house far off at the lake...
Now, the camera begins tracking in the opposite direction, as the dying man joins in speaking the invocation, so that both his and Damiel's voices are heard simultaneously:
Shot 2060c (18 sec.) The camera tracks to the left.
DAMIEL and the DYING MAN:The Southern Cross,
The Far East,
The Great North,
The Wild West,
The Great Bear Lake!
At the very end of this segment of the shot, we begin to hear the strains of cello music.
Now again, the camera reverses the direction of its movement, and as the shot continues, Damiel remains silent while the dying man alone continues speaking the invocation. In the final moments of this segment of the shot, a young man is seen hurrying along the bridge toward the scene of the accident.
Shot 2060d (18 sec.) The camera tracks to the right.
DYING MAN:The Isles of Tristan de Cunha.
The Mississippi Delta.
The old houses of Charlottenburg.
Yet again, the camera reverses its movement, tracking left one last time, and finally coming to rest when the young man arrives at the scene, scolding the onlookers. In the final moments of this last segment of the shot, Damiel looks up and cedes his place to the young man, who places his hands on the dying man's shoulders. Damiel caresses the young man's head (with an immaterial hand), as he rises to turn back toward the bridge.
Shot 2060e (13.3 sec.) The camera tracks to the left then falls to rest when the young
man reaches the scene of the accident.
DYING MAN :The morning light.
The child's eyes.
Swimming in the waterfall...
YOUNG MAN (out loud, to the onlookers):What the hell are you all doing there? YouYOUNG MAN (inner voice):
see what's happening! Has anyone at least phoned f
or a doctor?Too bad! He's
bleeding from the ears! His skull must be
In shot 2061, Damiel rises, turns toward the bridge and walks back across it. We continue to hear the inner thoughts of the dying man, now spoken in a strong voice, which replaces the enfeebled one heard in the previous shot. The camera tracks backwards in front of Damiel as he advances, then pans right to catch sight of a train passing beneath the bridge on which Damiel is standing.
Shot 2061 (36 sec.) VOICE OF THE DYING MAN (off screen):The flecks of the first raindrops.
Bread and wine.
The veins of leaves.
The fluttering grass.
The colors of the stones.
The pebbles on the river bed.
The table cloth in the open air.
The dream of the house...
Shot 2062 brings us into the train, looking through the conductor's window, presumably from Damiel's point of view, as the train passes under another bridge and heads toward a tunnel. This shot, during which the voice of the dying man continues, ends with a dissolve:
Shot 2062 (10 sec.) DYING MAN:...in the house.
The neighbor asleep in the next room.
In the remainder of the sequence - shots 2063-2068, all executed without camera movement - Damiel is perched on the shoulder of the Victory Statue, and we see either Damiel or what Damiel is looking at, as we hear the rest of the invocation spoken by the dying man:
Shot 2063 (4 sec.)
The light from the room...
Shot 2066 (4 sec.)
The beautiful stranger.
Shot 2064 (3 sec.)
In the garden.
The night flight.
Shot 2067 (5 sec.)
Shot 2065 (6 sec.)
Biking with no hands.
Shot 2068 (10 sec.)
As should be clear from the description above, from the moment the invocation begins until the time the young man replaces Damiel as comforter of the dying man, the camera tracks to the right (2060 b), then to the left (2060 c), then back to the right (2060 d), and finally once again to the left (2060 e), before coming to rest.
to the top of the page
Each change in direction corresponds to a change in the verbal component of the scene. Before the tracking begins, the dying man's fragmentary inner thoughts are heard - those thoughts embedded
The arrows indicate the changing directions of the camera movement in shot 2060 and the order in which the stills should be read here (and only here). Stills 1-3 represent segment b, stills 4-6 segment c, stills 7-9 segment d, and stills 10-11 the beginning of segment e. I am grateful to Lars G. Andersen and Bjørn Laursen for help with this illustration. in the situation at hand. When the camera first tracks right (2060 b), Damiel begins to recite the invocation for the dying man. When the camera then tracks left (2060 c), the dying man joins his voice to that of Damiel. When the camera once again tracks right (2060 d), the dying man alone recites the invocation. And when the camera tracks left for the final time, the voice of the young man is heard, along with the dying man's invocation.
These variables, serving as criteria for dividing shot 2060 into five segments, can be aligned as follows:
tracking voice(s) 2060 a none dying man's fragmentary thoughts 2060 b right Damiel recites the invocation 2060 c left Damiel and the dying man speak the invocation 2060 d right the dying man alone speaks the invocation 2060 e left as the dying man continues the invocation, the young man begins to scold the onlookers
During the interview Wim Wenders graciously accorded to me, and which covered many aspects of Wings of Desire, I asked the following question to which Wenders replied as follows:
to the top of the pageQUESTION: There is at least one shot in Wings of Desire in which the camera behaves as though it were filming a p.o.v., but I can't imagine whose point-of-view it could be: the shot where you track back and forth in front of the dying motorcycle guy. Did it just "feel right" to do it that way or was there a specific reason for this camera movement?Intrigued by Wenders's reference to Agnès Godard's reservations about the shot, I sought an interview with her, which she kindly granted. Here are the questions and her answers relating to shot 2060:
WIM WENDERS: I think it had to do with Damiel's pain. The scene comes at the end of the driving shot that precedes it. At first, we wanted to do it in one shot, to come around with the driving shot and stop in front of the dying man. And then it turned out that we just couldn't handle the curve when coming around because the camera was mounted on the front of a camera-car and we couldn't manage to come around all the way. So we had to devise two shots for what was initially planned as only one.
And then we tried to find a position for the frontal shot and we looked at it from the left and right so that the dying man was either on the left or on the right hand. By going back and forth just to find the position - as I did with my viewfinder, from left to right, and then again from right to left - I thought that going back and forth sort of showed more what Damiel was actually doing, in the way that he is - as the man is dying - that he's taking him over, so to speak. In a way, in a strange way, this "action" as well as the pain that came with it, were in that camera movement.
But obviously it was hard to explain it and I remember that I discussed it with Agnès [Godard] who was afraid that it wasn't justified because all the other camera movements were so to speak justified. But I thought that in that particular case, as it was somehow about a transition between life and death, it did translate something: not so much his p.o.v., more a mental attitude. Damiel's tenderness and his care for the man were in that back-and-forth movement.QUESTION: As I mentioned in my letter, Wim Wenders stated in an interview that you didn't entirely agree as to the way in which the scene with the dying motorcycle man should be filmed, and that in your view, the camera movement in this scene wasn't entirely justified.One way to summarize the interpretive material in the interviews quoted above, is to suggest that for Wenders, the camera movement in shot 2060 was in some way expressive 1) of Damiel's pain; 2) of Damiel's taking over; 3) of Damiel's tenderness and care for the dying man; and 4) of a transition between life and death; while for Agnès Godard, the camera movement 5) was like a heartbeat, and 6) made the words come alive.
AGNÈS GODARD: I was astonished when you told me that since I had no recollection of it at all. I was so astonished that tried to think back to what might have been in question, and in fact, it's true and it's connected to several different issues.
To begin with, it was only my second film as camera operator. So I was a bit intimidated by it all. Secondly, it was at the start of the shooting, and I don't think I had realized at that point to what degree Wim knew what the camera saw. Something about the camera movement seemed a bit risky to me and scared me, because I wasn't quite able to see in it as clear and perfectly logical ("Cartesian") a purpose, though that of course was not the nature of the film, which is poetic. But that's what had frightened me.
It was difficult to carry out technically because of the equipment. The camera was on a dolly on tracks, and in order to keep it low enough, that is at the eye level of people seated on the ground, it had to be mounted on what we call a "swan neck" - a brace which enables you to keep the camera in a very low position. The camera moved, it descended, from a rather high to a low position, and I had to do a balancing act. It was quite uncomfortable and I was afraid of not executing the movement in a fluid way.
And also there [in Berlin], I couldn't follow what was being said, I didn't understand [the language] well enough to grasp what was really happening. I think the technical worries got to me most... It was a cause of some anxiety for me.
The need to include the young man within the frame - I had understood him to be the son of the man who was dying - to include him in the image, not in a chancy way but to have him arrive in view because life is a string of things like that, of things hanging by a thread... that seemed difficult to me. Not a second too soon nor a second too late, but at the one right second. And I was afraid of not being able to translate that and of losing - in the reframing of the shot - what I had done to capture it in relation to that swaying motion which, after a while, I understood to be like heartbeats that were slowing down.
Do you see those camera movements as open to other interpretations as well?
I never had a chance to discuss these things with Wim during the shooting; obviously, that would have been impossible. My understanding - and this came afterwards - is that the camera had to move in order not to be dead before the character. That's what I felt, in the rhythm, like a heartbeat that might stop any moment. But we don't see it stop, there's no melodrama here.
When I saw the film, I also loved the cut to the following shot: of the angel filmed in a slightly high angle tracking shot as he walks on the bridge: life went on with that walking, which ends when a train passes, heading elsewhere. Death was part of life.
At the time of the shooting, I had not yet gauged to what degree Wim knows what is within the frame, whether the camera is stationary or moving. I have never seen anyone know the way he did what you see with a 25 mm, a 32, a 40, a 50. He sees where the camera is, he knows where [the visual field] begins and ends. It's quite extraordinary.
When I asked him why the camera moved back and forth, he proposed two explanations: 1) that in some way, those camera movements expressed the pain Damiel experienced; and 2) "I thought that going left to right sort of showed more what Damiel was actually doing, in the way that he's sort of taking over the dying man, so to speak. In a strange way, it was in that camera movement."
Yes, I see. It was somewhat in that sense that I mentioned heartbeats. But like something throbbing. For example, I have on several occasions seen people in psychiatric hospitals, and it is true that that pain is throbbing, sometimes they shift their weight from one foot to another. It's a little like that. And with that pain, it was not an altogether normal heartbeat. Something was ending. And in fact, cutting to Damiel walking on the bridge was in a sense accepting that [the dying man] has passed away, perhaps... But we don't see it end. Life goes on, through Damiel, who knew perhaps before anyone else that it was going to end. That's why we don't need to see it end.
Wenders also said that originally, the shot which began on the bridge was supposed to continue without any cutting, but that it was physically impossible since the camera-car couldn't make the turn as tightly as would have been necessary.
Yes. The shot depended on the route of the car and the movement of the camera. The camera was mounted on the front of the car which had to be driven at high speed. At the place where the wounded man was lying, the road was damaged - the car couldn't really turn - and the maximum breadth of the pan was insufficient. The shot couldn't be done the way Wim wanted it at the end of this ride on the bridge. He must have felt the need to find some other way of enriching what was to follow.
If the camera had not been moved back and forth, from left to right, would the shot have been too static?
Yes, I think so. I think it would almost have been a pleonasm with the text. But being in motion, for whatever reason, something magical happens, it enables the words to breathe and we accept the duration. It's very strange. Because the words are after all quite poetic, even though they almost everyday words, and it makes them breathe, it brings them to life while evoking the notion of duration. And Wim alone had foreseen that.
And for me, that too is perhaps expressive of fragility: one fine day, those words can vanish, without our giving them a thought; at any given second, it can all stop. For me, it also expressed something of that kind.
During the shooting, I didn't enjoy [the spoken words] as fully as I do now because it was in German and I had trouble understanding it. I should add that when Bruno [Gans] spoke while being filmed, there was so much music in it that even though I couldn't understand everything he said, I was carried away. But I didn't have any insight into its meaning. So I had some worries that Wim must have sensed. It isn't entirely wrong to say that I didn't agree since I asked myself: "Is it certain that this is the right way to do the shot?"
When I showed this scene to my students, some of them said that the back and forth movement of the camera was an oscillation between life and death, and that even the fact that the action takes place at the end of a bridge is significant in that respect. Does that strike you as entirely mistaken?
No, I don't think it's mistaken. As a matter of fact, the richness of many of the shots and of the "mise en images" in general in this film, springs from the fact that you can sometimes find an unlimited number of explanations or images of that kind, because what is said and the manner in which it is filmed are so perfectly suited to one another. That's truly beautiful. Granted, you can also arrive at some far fetched interpretations, but basically, what really counts is that so many things be suggested that each person can find in it his or her own explanation, and that's magnificent. That means that the implement called cinema is there in all its plenitude, and it's wonderful that each of us can find his or her own explanation; that's what makes images come to life. For me, that's the magic of cinema: that from something lifeless and impalpable, there is a moment in which sensation and emotion are created, and that it is possible to make images live beyond their texture. In this film, I think that that happens to a fascinating degree.
Was the path of the camera movements in this shot slightly curved?
No, it wasn't curved, it was a traveling in a straight line. The effects man was really extraordinary. He also knew exactly what was in the frame of the camera. But Wim was there and he was the conductor... For him, there is an intellectual investigation in play, since he knows very well what meaning this kind of thing can produce. Often, and sometimes for extended periods, he asked himself questions. But at a certain point, I think a certain intuition comes and he trusts it. It's quite strong. In that respect, he has a special contact with the space seen through a lens.
Did you need to do more than one take for that shot?
Yes, we did several takes. I'm not sure how many. Probably about five or six.
But all done in about the same way?
Yes... I wanted to add something about the camera movements and that kind of intuition. The exceptional quality of the "mise en images" in this film is also due to camera movements that are sometimes quite sophisticated, without ever appearing to be so. It was never the camera that set feelings in motion. It's more subtle than that... And I was afraid that in reframing the shot, in going after the young man, we were imposing - by the very fact that we went looking for him, that we were reframing the angel and the dying man - that we were pulling the strings of the story. It seemed preferable to me that it be the chain of events by themselves, that Damiel was someone who, by nature, was always there at the right time, and that that was the chain of events.
Another piece of information Wim Wenders gave me: he said that when he realized that he couldn't continue the shot on the bridge, that he stood before the two actors and looked at them through a viewfinder, moving to the right and to the left in search of the right place to position the camera. And in this way, he conceived the idea...
Yes, a viewfinder, that's wonderful. He must have been trying out different positions. Yes, that doesn't surprise me. (Laughter). That goes to show that Wim does a kind of preparatory work which reflects a concern for precision. But he is also capable of always remaining open to what is going on at the very moment... And what you are telling me now is the proof of that. I think it's brilliant.
That other commentators who wrote about this scene (see note 5) made no mention of the extraordinary camera movement in shot 2060, is in some ways surprising. At the same time, that very omission suggests that what I take to be one of Agnès Godard's chief worries about the movement - that it risked being obtrusive and drawing attention to the process of filming rather than to what was filmed - was entirely unfounded.
When I showed the dying motorcyclist scene to a group of students and asked what they made of the camera work in shot 2060, some suggested that the camera movement was like an oscillation between the poles of life and death, and in that respect, related to what the bridge in the scene might symbolize; for others, it was a pendulum, showing that time was running out; yet others saw in it the rocking of a cradle, in connection with Damiel's comforting of the dying man.
to the top of the page
My own approach would be to supplement what Wenders and Godard have said about the shot, by looking at the camera movement in relation to the verbal component of the scene.
When the scene begins, we hear the dying man's inner voice (shots 2059 and 2060a):
Though there are fleeting references to "yesterday" and to things that will never be done in a non-existent future, this inner voice is essentially rooted in the here and now, in the physical situation at hand.
Guck doch nicht so blöd! Hast du
noch niemanden krepieren sehen?
Scheiße, so einfach ist das? Da
lieg' ich in der Pfütze, stink' wie
ein Tanker. Ich kann doch hier jetzt
nicht eingehen wie 'ne Primel! Alles
so klar! Wie die alle dastehen! Wie
die mich anglotzen! Der Ölfleck...
Karin, das hätte ich ihr gestern
sagen sollen... Das Ding ist mir
einfach weggerutscht. ...daß es mir
leid tut. Karin! Jetzt lieg ich
hier. Ich kann doch nicht so
einfach... Ich muß doch noch...
Karin, ich muß doch noch soviel tun!
Karin, Baby, mir geht's nicht gut.
Don't look at me so stupidly!
Haven't you seen anyone croak
before? Shit, is it this easy? I'm
lying here in a puddle, stinking
like an oil tanker. I can't really
end up here like a wilting flower!
Everything so clear! How they stand
there gawking at me. The oil
smudge.. Karin, I should have told
her yesterday... This thing got out
of control. ...I'm so sorry. Karin!
Now I'm lying here. I can't
simply... I have to... Karin, I
still have so much to do! Karin,
Baby, things look bad for me.
The "invocation of the world" issues from a deeper part of the dying man. It is not merely his inner voice, but the very wellspring of his being, and although it is in its own way highly concrete, it nevertheless disengages the dying man from his situation in the gutter by enabling him to recapitulate what is most meaningful in his life:
Die Anrufung der Welt Wie ich bergauf
ging und aus dem Talnebel in die Sonne
kam... Das Feuer am Rande der
Viehweide... Die Kartoffeln in der
Asche... Das Bootshaus weit draußen am
Das Kreuz des Südens... Der Ferne
Osten, Der Hohe Norden, Der Wilde
Westen Der Große Bärensee!
Die Insel Tristan de Cunha. Das Delta
des Mississippi. Stromboli. Die alten
Häuser Charlottenburgs. Albert Camus.
Das Morgenlicht. Das Augenpaar des
Kindes. Das Schwimmen am Wasserfall...
Die Flecken der ersten Tropfen des
Regens. Die Sonne. Das Brot und der
Wein. Der Hüpfschritt. Das Osterfest.
Die Adern der Blätter. Das wehende
Gras. Die Farben der Steine. Die
Kiesel auf dem Grunde des Bachbetts.
Das weiße Tischtuch im Freien. Der
Traum vom Haus im Haus. Der schlafende
Nächste im Nebenraum. Die Ruhe des
Sonntags. Der Horizont. Der
Lichtschein vom Zimmer... Im Garten.
Das Nachtflugzeug. Das freihändig
Radfahren. Die schöne Unbekannte. Mein
Vater. Meine Mutter. Meine Frau. Mein
Invocation of the World As I emerged
from the valley out of the fog into
the sunshine... The fire at the edge
of the pasture... The potatoes in
the ashes... The boat-house far off
at the lake...
The Southern Cross, The Far East,
The High North, The Wild West, The
Great Bear Lake!
The Isles of Tristan de Cunha. The
Mississippi Delta. Stromboli. The
old houses of Charlottenburg. Albert
Camus. The morning light. The
child's eyes. Swimming at the
waterfall... The first raindrop
spots. The sun. Bread and wine.
Skipping. Easter. The veins of
leaves. The waving grass. The
colors of the stones. The pebbles on
the creek bed.
The white table cloth in the open air.
The dream of the house in the house.
The person asleep in the next room.
Sunday's peacefulness. The horizon.
The light from the room... In the
garden. The night plane. Biking with
no hands. The beautiful stranger. My
father. My mother. My wife. My child.
When Damiel leans his head down onto the dying man's head (shot 2060a), it is not to hear his inner voice, which was perfectly audible from a distance while Damiel was still crossing the bridge, but to tune in to a kind of inner poem, hidden in the depths of the dying man and inaccessible to him. Damiel pulls this inner poem up to the surface, helping the dying man to find it and to speak it. And in the process, the dying man regains control of his life and rises above the situation at hand.
What we have here is a transition from what might be called a discourse of embeddedness ("I'm lying in a puddle, stinking like an oil tanker..."), to a discourse of transcendence ("As I emerged from the valley out of the fog into the sunshine..."), from the merely subjective to the spiritual, from randomness to order, from the limited to the all-encompassing, from prose to a kind of poetry, from the harshest of realities to a kind of enchantment.
And in the process, the camera becomes enchanted as well.
to the top of the pageCiment, Michel Ciment and Hubert Niogret. "Entretien avec Wim Wenders." Positif 319 (September 1987), pp. 9-15.
Cook, Roger. "Angels, Fiction and History in Berlin: Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire," The Germanic Review 66, 1 (Winter 1991), pp. 34-47.
Kolker, Robert Phillip and Peter Beicken. The Films of Wim Wenders. Cinema as Vision and Desire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Parra, Danièle. "Entretien avec Wim Wenders." Revue du cinéma 431 (October 1987), pp. 33-35.
Raskin, Richard. "Faire vivre les images. Une interview avec Agnès Godard sur Les ailes du désir." (Pré)publications 142 (February 1994), pp. 42-56.
Raskin, Richard. "It's Images You Can Trust Less and Less. An Interview with Wim Wenders on Wings of Desire," (Pré)publications 145 (October 1994), pp. 23-34. Raskin, Richard. "Si tant est qu'il existe des anges réels. Un entretien avec Henri Alekan sur Les ailes du désir et sur l'art de l'image." (Pré)publications 141 (November 1993), pp. 41-58. Wenders, Wim and Peter Handke. Der Himmel über Berlin. Ein Filmbuch. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1992, orig. pub. 1987.
Winkler-Bessone, Claude. Les Films de Wim Wenders. La nouvelle naissance des images. Berne: Peter Lang, 1992.
to the top of the page
1 Michel Ciment and Hubert Niogret, "Entretien avec Wim Wenders." Positif 319 (September 1987), p. 14.
2 Danièle Parra, "Entretien avec Wim Wenders." Revue du cinéma 431 (October 1987), p. 35.
3 Shot numbers are derived from the shooting script, published both in German and French: Wim Wenders and Peter Handke. Der Himmel über Berlin. Ein Filmbuch (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1992, orig. pub. 1987); and Les Ailes du désir (Paris: Jade-Flammarion, 1987; French translation by Dominique Petit et Bernard Eisenschitz).
4 Born in Paris in 1909, Henri Alekan - first as camera assistant, then as camera operator and finally as director of photography - contributed to the production of numerous masterpieces of French cinema, such as Marcel Carné's Le Quai des brumes (1938), René Clément's La Bataille du rail (1946) and Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la bête (1946). He is also the author of an extraordinary book on light in cinema and painting: Des lumières et des ombres of which a new edition was published by the Librairie du Collectionneur in 1991. In 1981, he was Wenders's director of photography for Der Stand der Dinge (The State of Things). He kindly granted me an interview on Wings of Desire, in the summer of 1993: Richard Raskin, "Si tant est qu'il existe des anges réels. Un entretien avec Henri Alekan sur Les ailes du désir et sur l'art de l'image." (Pré)publications 141 (nov. 1993), pp. 41-58.
5 Roger Cook, "Angels, Fiction and History in Berlin: Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire," The Germanic Review 66, 1 (Winter 1991), p. 40; Claude Winkler-Bessone, Les Films de Wim Wenders. La nouvelle naissance des images (Berne: Peter Lang, 1992), pp. 27, 198-199; Robert Phillip Kolker and Peter Beicken, The Films of Wim Wenders. Cinema as Vision and Desire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 147.
6 Richard Raskin, "It's Images You Can Trust Less and Less. An Interview with Wim Wenders on Wings of Desire," (Pré)publications 145 (October 1994), pp. 23-34.
7 Richard Raskin, "Faire vivre les images. Une interview avec Agnès Godard sur Les ailes du désir." (Pré)publications 142 (février 1994), pp. 42-56. Agnès Godard was Wenders's camera assistant for Der Stand der Dinge (The State of Things) in 1981 and Paris Texas in 1984. She served as camera operator for Wenders's Wings of Desire (1986) and Peter Greenaway's The Belly of an Architect (1987), and more recently as director of photography for such directors as Agnès Varda, Peter Handke and Claire Denis.
8 Wim Wenders and Peter Handke. Der Himmel über Berlin. Ein Filmbuch (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1992, orig. pub. 1987), p. 52. I am grateful to Dieter Britz for help with the English translation. Disparities between the translation given here (and on pp. 84-88 above) and the film's subtitles are intentional.
9 Ibid., pp. 52-55.
to the top of the page