The 1987 film “Wings of Desire” by Wim Wenders has a storyline that you are probably familiar with. Although they are very different, Brad Silberling’s movie “City of Angels” is based on the German movie which was shot in Berlin. While most viewers will probably prefer “City of Angels” as their romantic story of love between a woman and an angel, “Wings of Desire” is a far superior film.
“Wings of Desire” begins by allowing us to experience what it is like for angels Damiel and Cassiel. Their days consist of overseeing the actions of random human beings and occasionally placing hands on them to provide them with comfort or suddenly change their mood. The film can be accused of being very slow and boring, however, Wenders uses a slow start to his plot to allow viewers to experience what Damiel experiences; Slow and monotonous days of observing humans. Damiel desires to feel as a human feels and to know what the angels do not know. Almost the entire first hour of the film has us experiencing this slow moving life of hearing the various thoughts of humans. The plot doesn’t really begin until Damiel finally decides to become human because of his desire to be with a woman he has fallen in love with. Many who watch this film may not realize that the slow pace is deliberately in place for us to desire as Damiel desires; for something more to happen, for something more to experience.
The cinematography adds to the mood and pace of the film. The slow camera movements that flow throughout the world of Berlin allow audiences to see the world as the angels do. Wenders’ uses monochromatic film also to affect the way the viewer feels throughout the movie. The angels see the world in a way that lacks color or anything that can be felt by human senses. The acting also follows; Damiel and Cassiel barely show any expression or emotion as they move through Berlin. All this is purposeful for us to appreciate the lives that we have in which we can feel love and see wonderful things.
I watched this movie upon a recommendation from a friend of mine who also loves film. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is serious about film. However, most people will find the movie slow and boring because they fail to realize Wenders’ intentions. This is not a romance in the same way that “City of Angels” was in where we rejoice at the love of what is seen on screen; but rather a film in which we rejoice at the love that we possess and the beauty of life itself. As Damiel says, we have the ability to know “what the angels do not know.”
For the record: I wrote a much better review my first time around but wordpress’ text editor failed to save my entire critique in which I spent nearly two hours on. I wrote this critique as quickly as possible so I could get some sleep.