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The sky over Berlin July 24, 2006

Posted by Jeff in 1961 through 1989, Movies.

Der Himmel über Berlin (The Sky over Berlin) is the German title of Wings of Desire (1987), my choice for the best movie of the last twenty years.

Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are angels: immortal, unseen and unheard by humans, but omnipresent, all-seeing, there for the comfort of those in need.

Damiel has encountered a woman with whom he has fallen in love, and he is tempted to become human. He encounters Peter Falk (played by Peter Falk, almost all of whose dialogue was improvised). Falk can directly sense his presence, unlike any other adult human Damiel has ever encountered:

Damiel takes the plunge, becomes human, and again encounters Falk:

Roger Ebert has a good point: this is the kind of movie people like him (and like me) are accused of raving about because it appears to be difficult and esoteric. If you go into this movie Looking For Higher Meanings, I suppose that’s what you’ll find; like all great art, you will find in it what you are looking for.

Instead, I suggest you open yourself to the performances, the direction by Wim Wenders and the script by Wenders and Peter Handke, art direction by Heidi Lüdi, and cinematography by Henri Alékan, Cocteau’s cinematographer for La Belle et la Bête, who was eighty-eight when he made this movie. Stop Looking For Higher Meanings, and you might not only enjoy it as much as I do, but you might figure out the Higher Meanings anyway.


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