Perched up on some ledge somewhere was Bruno Ganz, who director Wim Wenders truly believed in. It is touching to see that faith in action throughout Wings of Desire, a fine collaboration between two fine artists. Wings of Desire marks itself as a loosely structured piece, filing away the lives encountered in glimmers at the most. Ganz portrays the great observer, an angel known as Damiel, some entity that can feel, but only for others. It seems a far cry away from the world of worries when life and death pass through it all, and it’s both terrifying and mystifying as Ganz makes his way through those lives, desiring it all the more.
As intricate and emotionally present as it is beautiful to watch, Wenders finds a comfortable spot for Wings of Desire and spends much of his time painstakingly carving out his meaning. Delicate as ever, his personable features carry that lingering presence of real lives being toyed with, for good or ill. The beauty is in the writing, the poetry of it and how adaptable it can be. How it flows over the meaning of the feature, the sincerity behind the voice of these words. Ganz may surprise those that know him only from Downfall, and that is a welcome surprise. It will highlight not just his abilities as a varied and veteran actor, but his ability to use his presence as a vital tool that supports his performance and those around him. How friendly a face he has in this Wenders feature is quite the change of pace to the villainy he contributed to in Downfall.
With light touches from Wenders, transitions are made through the beat of a wing or the childlike vividness of looking up at the sky and cementing wonder in the youthful mind. It is a wonder that will have left some audience members, but for those that find beauty in Wings of Desire, they will find also a rekindling of their free spirit. Kids that look up toward the overarching architecture to spot the angel perched over them while adults too wrapped up in their problems march on. It’s that which Wenders draws toward often, and with such intimacy. Would someone miss their feelings given the chance to remove them? Does the suffering of the everyday outweigh the short-term joy of oblivious living? It’s a fascinating direction to study in this Wenders piece, and thankfully, through beautifully crafted moments of technical genius and moving undercurrents, it is possible to follow that thought.
An angel that chooses to be mortal, to experience love and passion and intimacy. It is the harsh contrast painted so well as Wenders weaves the camera into the windows of those that have lost their passion from the years just behind them. Those that are stuck ruminating on years wasted, some just a couple, others a few decades. A culture brought up on the television, sincerely struggling to go on, worrying for themselves in that naturally selfish perspective but for the generation to follow them because they’re having the same troubles too. Wings of Desire is as startling as it is touching, because of the contrast it creates and how it defies it at times. Wenders has a gift for those observations and marks them as intimately as he can with obvious messages that are told with such a gift for writing.