Close Up

6 - 28 August 2022: Close-Up on Wim Wenders


Born in 1945, Wim Wenders came to international prominence as one of the pioneers of the New German Cinema during the 1970’s and is one of the most important figures in contemporary German film. Wenders has collaborated with many of the most influential filmmakers and artists, from Michelangelo Antonioni and Nicholas Ray to Pina Bausch and Yohji Yamamoto. In addition to his many prize-winning feature films, his work as a scriptwriter, director, producer, photographer and author also encompasses an abundance of innovative documentary films, international photo exhibitions and numerous monographs, film books and prose collections.  

We’re delighted to present five of Wim Wenders’s films, including newly restored versions of Wings of Desire, The American Friend and Kings of The Road.


Alice in the Cities
Wim Wenders, 1974, 107 min
German with English subtitles

One of the key films of the New German Cinema, Alice in the Cities marked the emergence of Wim Wenders as one of the most distinctive European filmmakers of the 1970s. It is also widely accepted to be one of the director's most poignant films and the first to be shot partly in the United States. Philip Winter, a journalist with writer's block, becomes the guardian of eight-year-old Alice (Yella Rottlander) when her mother leaves the girl with him briefly at an American airport, only never to return. Back in Germany, an unlikely friendship develops between the two as they embark on a journey to find Alice's grandmother. Through Rudiger Vogler's portrayal of the embittered Winter, Wenders presents a stark but witty account of the changing face of Europe, the onset of global consumerism and the influences of American pop culture.


Kings of the Road
Wim Wenders, 1976, 168 min
German with English subtitles

“Wenders’ ultimate road movie follows an itinerant cinema mechanic (Vogler) and his partner (Zischler) as they drive through marginal towns along the border of the former East and West Germanies. Episodic in structure and leisurely in tempo, Kings of the Road blends scenes of highways and towns with references to the movies of Godard, Ozu, Lang, and others – all the while creating a subtle rite of passage for its road-bound protagonists. As the film tracks the motions of these figures in a landscape, states of mind and senses of place emerge powerfully.” – Harvard Film Archive


The American Friend
Wim Wenders, 1977, 121 min
German, English & French with English subtitles  

“International intrigue, art and homicide, film and contemporary culture form the matrix of themes that underpin Wenders’s brilliant quasi-thriller, loosely adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game. A terminally ill picture framer in Hamburg (Ganz) reluctantly agrees to become a hit man to insure the future of his soon-to-be widow (Kreuzer). Duplicity and ambiguity reign as he crosses paths with double-crossing killers (including filmmaker Sam Fuller) and shady American art dealer Tom Ripley, played by Dennis Hopper in cowboy gear.” – Harvard Film Archive


Paris, Texas
Wim Wenders, 1984, 147 min  

"The wide-open spaces of the American West turn into “a place for demons, a place for heartbreak,” in Wenders’s magisterial deconstruction of multiple myths: family, masculinity, and even America itself. Written by Sam Shepard, the film follows a Bukowski-like drifter (Harry Dean Stanton) as he staggers under a bright, uncaring Western sky, seemingly looking for another drink, but actually seeking his long-lost young son. Finally reunited, they search for Mom (Nastassja Kinski), and find her in a peep show. A slice of Americana as authentic as any John Ford film, Paris, Texas finds its darkness not in the terrain, but the heart." – Jason Sanders


Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders, 1987, 127 min
German, English & French with English subtitles  

"Wings of Desire, written in collaboration with Peter Handke and based on Wenders's reading of Rilke, posits two sad and sober trench coat-clad angels whose beat is Berlin. Unseen, but not entirely unnoticed, and with a tender gravity, they cradle, comfort, bear witness, relish absurdity, cherish thoughts. Among the mortals the angels encounter are an aging writer absorbed in memories of a devastated Germany; an actor (Peter Falk) on location shooting a film about the Nazi era; and a lovely, lonely trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin) for whom Ganz's angel finally falls. Heaven can wait." – Judy Bloch