Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road). 1976. West Germany. Directed by Wim Wenders. In German; English subtitles. 175 min.
Screenplay by Wim Wenders. With Rüdiger Vogler, Hanns Zischler, Lisa Kreuzer. Described by the critic J. Hoberman as “the tenderest and most horrific depiction I know of German postwar anomie,” Kings of the Road accompanies a movie-projector repairman and his despondent companion as they travel by truck along the East German border, wandering from town to town and cinema to cinema. The theaters they encounter are in various states of disrepair—some have even begun showing porn to make ends meet. “The way it’s going,” one theater owner avers, “it’s better to have no cinema than to have cinema as it is now.” Wenders’s film is indeed a poignant lament for the death of cinema, yet it paradoxically signaled a revitalization of the medium with its Fordian ambitions and improvisatory spirit. With black-and-white cinematography by Robby Müller that recalls both the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher and Farm Security Administration photography, and a plangent original score by Axel Linstädt, _Kings of the Road_—whose original German title is literally translated as “in the course of time”—is an acute study in the vagaries of male intimacy and a stirring examination of the contradictory yearning for both companionship and solitude.