Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bin ich denn nicht schnell

We watched Wings of Desire via Netflix tonight. I saw it on its original release in France in 1987--with a French audio track. (In my mind/heart, the film is neither "Wings of Desire," nor "Der Himmel über Berlin", but rather as "Les Ailes du désir.")

I remember being rivetted by the film the first time around, the etherial sound track, the striking visuals, the luminous quality of the black and white scenes. I was excited to see it again 18 (!) years later (where did those years go?), and share it with The Husband--now with original German/English audio.

The unexpected treasure of watching the film on DVD this time was the added feature about the making of the film, with interview footage of Wim Wenders, Bruno Ganz, Otto Sander, Peter Handke, and Jürgen Knieper. I hadn't already known that the movie was such a huge collaborative effort, nor that it came together in such an unconventional fashion. (In the cosmology of leash-less film productions, this is surely the yin that balances the yang of Apocolypse Now.) I wish in some ways we had watched this feature first; even if it contains spoilers, I think it would have added a greater depth of interest in the film for my husband, particularly watching it as an actor.

Because the feature was created by MGM, it included some gratuitous clips with Brad Silberling, the director of the cheap Hollywood knockoff/Meg Ryan vehicle, City of Angels. Sorry, but Ryan is no Solveig Dommartin. (I wish I could get my hands on more of Dommartin's work. My eyes are peeled.) I would have been just as happy to be spared Silberling's "insights."

When I was singing in Montreal in the late 80's/early 90's, I belonged to a number of small groups that performed the world debut of new compositions by Montreal performers. Kneiper's score reminded me of some of those works--at the same time that he made them look structured and formal.

Watching the movie tonight, I fell in love all over again with Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander. I wasn't suprised to learn that Wenders cast them because they were friends, and had come up through theatre together. Their screen chemistry is spectacular. They come across, in the film and in the off-screen interviews, like the kind of people that are a joy to perform with (as long as you can keep up with the pace).

So after the movie I was thinking, "Bruno Ganz...Bruno Ganz...where has his name come up recently...?"

Ach. I can be so nicht schnell.

Ganz, of course, brilliantly portrays Hitler in Der Untergang/Downfall. There is not a mantlepiece in the universe big enough to support the awards that this film deserves to win, firstly but not exclusively for Ganz's performance.

I suppose I can be forgiven for not connecting Ganz's angelic Damiel of 1987 with his portrayal of Hitler almost 20 years later.

Still, one does hope to be a little more schnell.

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