Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire). 1987. West Germany/France. Directed by Wim Wenders. In German, English, and many other languages; English subtitles. 128 min.
Screenplay by Wim Wenders, Peter Handke, Richard Reitlinger. With Bruno Ganz, Peter Falk, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois. One of the most celebrated films of the 1980s, Wings of Desire (literally, Heaven over Berlin) centers on a pair of angels who wander unnoticed through West Berlin, eavesdropping on the inner monologues of its inhabitants as they ride the subway, sit in shabby apartments, and worry about love and money. Though privy to the thoughts and dreams of humans, the angels are forbidden from intervening in their private affairs. But when one of the celestial beings falls in love with a circus performer, he considers giving up his immortality—colorless, eternal, unchanging—for an earthly existence—vivid, messy, vitally unpredictable. Wenders’s film is a daring experiment in perspective, articulating a heavenly messenger’s point of view through virtuosic aerial shots and graceful pans, yet it is also a complex allegory for life in a walled-off city, and perhaps even for moviegoing itself. Digital preservation.