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.
What are we to do when we are told to die? Implying that we do not know we will is folly, for it is our time to bow out at some point. We don’t know when. That’s the safety net. Eternity and a Day rips away the unspoken rule of not thinking about our demise when a man confronts his mortality and is thrust into a ticking few days. He must do what fulfils him in that time, but how can he when his head is flowing with the fear of fizzling out into nothingness? Either that, or it could be the complete opposite reaction. He may be comforted by the idea that he has not got long to live. His priorities are scattered, the plans and payments made for the future do not matter one iota. Surely that is quite freeing? Director Theo Angelopoulos follows both avenues of thought well in Eternity and a Day.
Once the tyrannical Nazi rule over Germany crumbled, those who were once seen as the heroes of this new regime and war effort found themselves in their final days, hunkered underground, waiting for the inevitable Russian forces. Their perplexing inability to accept their losses, and their undignified approach to sacrificing as many as they could for the sake of a dying message is one of the most violently disturbing acts humanity may ever see. Downfall, from director Oliver Hirschbiegel, captures these final moments of life during wartime for Nazi Germany, as Adolf Hitler and his cronies huddle together for their final days as they career, bull-headed, into inevitable defeat.