Wings of Desire (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

Wings of Desire (1987)

Wings of Desire (1987)

Wings of Desire



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Movie Info

"There are angels on the streets of Berlin" in Wim Wenders' beautiful and evocative masterpiece (co-written with Peter Handke), a melancholy and meditative contemplation of human life and emotion as seen through the eyes of two angels -- Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander). Angels are unseen witnesses to human affairs and hover over human beings -- listening to their thoughts, lending comfort to the despairing, providing hope to the dying. To adults they cannot be seen, but children can feel their unseen presence. Angels can listen but cannot interfere in any way with human affairs. Damiel and Cassiel are two of the many angels who have witnessed the state of human affairs in Berlin. Having performed their labors since the inception of mankind, Damiel and Cassiel are growing a bit weary of their tasks. Damiel, perhaps, a bit more so: "Instead of hovering, I'd like to feel some weight on me," he says to Cassiel. The two angels latch on to two kindred souls among the multitude of cacophonous voices in Berlin. Cassiel finds himself returning to Homer (Curt Bois), an aged writer whose readers have abandoned him and who no longer writes. Damiel is attracted to svelte and beautiful French trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin), who also finds herself alone and without an audience when her circus folds. When the angels walk around a movie set, Peter Falk (playing himself) senses their presence, "I can't see you, but I know you're here." Speaking to the unseen (by him) Damiel, he seduces him to the delights of being alive, "To smoke, and have coffee. And if you do it together . . . it's fantastic." Damiel, who has fallen in love with Marion, decides to take the plunge to pain, sadness, and death and become a human being, Cassiel observing it all from atop a looming statue. Now a human being, Damiel must somehow find Marion and express his love to her.more
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Wim Wenders, Peter Handke
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 1, 2003
Criterion Collection

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Bruno Ganz
as Damiel
Otto Sander
as Cassiel
Curt Bois
as Homer
Beatrice Manowski
as Das Strichmädchen
Peter Falk
as Himself
Hans Martin Stier
as The Dying Man
Lajos Kovács
as Marion's coach
Peter Werner
as Manager
Paul Busch
as Circus
Didier Flamand
as Angel at the library
Olivier Picot
as Air-raid shelter
Dirk Vogeley
as On the highway
Mick Harvey
as Crime & the city sol...
Nick Cave
as Himself
Blixa Bargeld
as Member of Nick Cave ...
Mick Harvey
as Crime & the city sol...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Wings of Desire

Critic Reviews for Wings of Desire

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (9)

A fantasy that... goes right in spite of its solemn style.

Full Review… | November 27, 2012
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

A sublimely beautiful, deeply romantic film for our times.

Full Review… | November 27, 2012
Top Critic

Wings of Desire is one of Wenders's most stunning achievements.

Full Review… | July 9, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Few films are so rich, so intriguing, or so ambitious.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

One of the few truly great movies to come out of the '80s.

August 5, 2003
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Wings of Desire has an ingenuousness, a sweetness of spirit, that triumphs over the conventional rigidities of its calculation.

Full Review… | November 27, 2012
The Nation

Audience Reviews for Wings of Desire

An angel falls in love with a human woman and decides to become one of her kind.
The inspiration for the Hollywood tear-jerker City of Angels, Wim Wenders's film is decidedly un-Hollywood. Filled with existential reflections and poorly paced, the film is more meditation than plot and story, more philosophical musing than love story. It feels long, though only a little over two hours.
Peter Falk, who apparently is an ex-angel, plays himself, and this dash of reality seems incongruent with the fantasy that permeates the rest of the film.
Overall, I didn't like either the Hollywood or European version of this story because both seem too far to the ends of extremes.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Dealing with the interconnectedness of the human existence as well as the ethereal quality of dreams and the world of angels, Wim Wenders provides his magnum opus with "Wings of Desire." The film has been lauded for its grasp of different foreign languages, veering from the macabre, and showing the romanticism of the relationship between Damiel and Marion. While a later adaptation dealt primarily with this relationship, "Wings of Desire," at its core, is a film about the experience of being human and not taking it for granted. The world is not shown as being exciting, but instead candid and often beatific. The angels' world is superimposed over the humans', but theirs is a dull gray and white landscape. The humans' is in color and they interact with one another, but in the angels' they can hear the people's thoughts. Oftentimes these thoughts are philosophical and heavy-handed, exactly what a person would think if they were alone. These thoughts are oftentimes sprawling narratives about their lives, their strife and worries about the future. The angels whisper into their ears, picking up their moods by implanting thoughts. One of these angels is named Damiel, who floats around a huge library where other angels nest, and also around the massive city of Berlin. He and his friend Cassiel remark on the virtues of being alive, and all the small things that we never notice in our daily lives. While at a circus Damiel sees a trapeze performer named Marion and follows her around, listening to her dense inner thoughts. She gives these long soliloquies about the state of the world and how she fits into it, which are charming and introspective. Between the amazing visuals, the bleak and yet interesting soliloquies from the people that the angels are listening to, the amazing cinematography, the great performance from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and the bleak Cold War landscape of Berlin, this film is unparalleled in beauty or simplicity. Peter Falk is also a great addition in a strange cameo where he plays himself, with a fictitious background as a fallen angel. Knowing someone is listening to your thoughts may seem terrifying, but when it comes to these guardians and their empathy towards humans, even in their times of need, it's an angelic effort all around.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Daniel and Cassiel are two angels who are assigned to watch over the city of Berlin. It is their job to monitor people and take note of all that occurs, and to help out those in need. Daniel (Bruno Ganz) eventually grows tired of this, and decides to give up immortality to become human so that, no only can he experience life to the fullest, but just life in general, including finding love with a profoundly lonely trapeze artist.

Hollywood bastardized this film as City of Angels with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, but even then, that doesn't take away from the fact that this is one of the most beautiful, poetic, and profoundly moving films ever made. It is, basically, Wim Wenders's masterpiece.

It is a heavy film, with lots of spiritual and philosophical subtext, but despite being an art film, this deals with things that everyone can relate to, mostly, just trying to escape from an isolated life and make meaningful connections with others. The film is heavily stylized, using both criso momochromatic black and white and bright colors to represent the angelic and human worlds, respectively. The fact that it was also shot in Berlin while the Wall was still up also reinforces the divide between the humans and angels, and it is interesting to see the city from this perspective.

My only real complaint is that the film is kinda slow, and maybe a bit ponderous here and there, but overall, this is just a marvelous film, and I'm glad I finally saw it because I really feel like it truly is one of the best films ever made.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Wings of Desire Quotes

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