Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 258 - Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire (1987) directed by Wim Wenders

Today my grandmother passed away in her sleep. She was 90 years old. I would like to think she is in a better place and if anybody deserves heaven it would be her. She was the sweetest, most gentle person I've ever known. Hearing her laugh always brought a smile to my face. She lived a good life and was loved and admired by everyone who knew her. She was also bed ridden for months with little hope for recovery and I knew this day would inevitably come. It pained me every time I visited her to see her in that state. I last visited her on Christmas. My last image of her was her waving goodbye as I left. I cannot remember our last words together, but I do remember what she said to me all those months ago after her stroke. She told me not to worry about her and that she would always be with me. I cried. But such is the circle of life.

I watched Wings of Desire under the pretense that I could somehow link the story of my grandmother with the notion of angels and the questions of mortality and whatnot but the film is so esoteric and difficult that I'm not even going to try. I'll just say that this is unlike any film I've ever seen before (well aside from City of Angels for obvious reasons, but even then they are nothing alike in look and feel). Slow moving, artsy and pretentious would be understatements, but so would beautiful, inquiring and reflective.

I think this film is a good test of one's tastes and tolerance for certain movies. The key is in their response. It is easy to see the glowing reviews and go along with them to be safe. Ask them exactly what it is they liked about the film (aside from the admittedly wonderful cinematography). Almost everything I have read talks about the emotional response the viewer gets from the film, on how poignant and affecting it is. But if you do not get this response from it is it because you missed it or the film missed you? In this case, I would say the film missed me. I simply wasn't moved by it nor did I care for endless poetic pondering that passes as dialogue.

Perhaps I needed more structure in the film, more of a plot to grasp on to, because once you miss the emotional connection there is little left to hold on to. But if there is one thing that the film does get right it is the simple joy in living. In the film the angel Damiel wishes to become human to experience life rather than to observe it. It is curious that the film is shot in black and white when dealing with the angels' perspectives but suddenly shifts to vibrant color when dealing with human perspective. I am reminded of the scene in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps into the land of Oz. In that movie, the wonderful fantasy land is rich in color; in this film it is the simple world of the living rather than the spiritual world of the angels that provide the greatest experiences. I think there is much to be said about enjoying life while we still have it. Even the most mundane things should be cherished.

Grade: C+

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