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Wings of Desire(1987)
Damiel is an angel perched atop buildings high over Berlin who can hear the thoughts—fears, hopes, and dreams—of all the people living below. But when he falls in love with a beautiful trapeze artist, he is willing to give up his immortality to come back to earth to be with her.
For more about Wings of Desire and the Wings of Desire Blu-ray release, see the Wings of Desire Blu-ray Review
Starring: Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Peter Falk, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Hans-Martin Stier
Director: Wim Wenders
» See full cast & crew
Wings of Desire Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 18, 2009
Winner of the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987, Wim Wenders' "Der Himmel über Berlin" a.k.a "Wings of Desire" arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The disc contains a new, restored high-definition transfer, supervised and approved by director Wim Wenders. Amongst the supplemental features on the disc are: "The Angles Among Us", a documentary from 2003 containing interviews with director Wim Wenders; writer Peter Handke; actors Peter Falk, Bruno Ganz, and Otto Sander; Brad Silberling, director of City of Angels; and composer Jurgen Knieper; excerpted conversations with cinematographer Henri Alekan; "Remembrance" - excerpts from a 1982 film directed by Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander about actor Curt Bois; an audio commentary with director Wim Wenders and star Peter Falk; deleted scenes and outtakes; and more. Criterion have also included a 30-page illustrated booklet. Region-A "locked".
Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire tells two very different stories. The first one is about a group of angels roaming the streets of Berlin. They observe, follow and occasionally prevent humans from committing terrible mistakes. Kids can see and feel them, adults can't.
Most of the angels gather in a giant library in the heart of Berlin. There, they share their stories and learn from each other. Some also dream about what human life has to offer. They have been around for hundreds of years and seen plenty.
One of the angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz, Der Untergang), finds the humans intriguing. There is one in particular, an American movie star (Peter Falk, Columbo), who claims that he could feel his presence. Damiel spends long hours reading their minds, trying to understand what moves them. There are times when he feels like he is succeeding, but there are also times when the humans frustrate him enormously.
Cassiel (Otto Sander, Faraway, So Close!), Damiel's best friend, also spends long hours observing the humans. But he does not find them to be as fascinating as Cassiel does, and rarely goes out of his way to help them. He prefers to have Life follow its natural course.
While wandering around the streets of Berlin, Damiel encounters a beautiful trapeze dancer, Marion (Solveig Dommartin, S'en fout la mort), who has just been told that the circus she is performing with would have to stage its last show because there is no more money to cover the bills. Heartbroken and disillusioned, Marion begins to question the purpose of Life. Damiel observes Marion from afar.
The last show. Damiel is enormously moved by Marion's dancing. Later on, he follows her back to her room. She has come to terms with the fact that it is all over now - it is time to move on. But where? And doing what? Marion secretly wishes that instead of her dancing skills, she had someone - a man - to love.
On the way back to the library, deep inside Damiel something snaps. It is a new feeling, one he has never before experienced. Could this be what the humans describe as "love"? Damiel does not know, but he is willing to find out. He tells Cassiel that he is going to "make the plunge".
The second story in Wings of Desire is largely told through still images. It is about a city divided by an ugly wall. It is also about those who live in the city - the ones who have seen it getting destroyed, and then being slowly rebuilt. Throughout the film, they wander around desperately trying to uncover the exact locations of cafés, shops and theaters they once visited.
The overwhelming amount of Wings of Desire is shot in black and white. Only occasionally - when Damiel feels, and later on begins searching for Marion - the film utilizes color. All of the black and white sequences were done with the use of a unique camera filter.
Wings of Desire boasts a fittingly atmospheric soundtrack with terrific tunes by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ("From Her to Eternity", "The Carny"), Tuxedomoons ("Some Guys"), Crime and The City Solution ("Six Bells Chime"), Laurie Anderson, Laurent Petitgand, and others.
In 1987, Wings of Desire won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Two years later, the film won the Best Cinematography Award (Henri Alekan) granted by the National Society of Film Critics in the U.S.
Wings of Desire Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in the director's preferred aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
Director Wim Wenders supervised and approved this new high-definition digital transfer, which was created from a 35mm interpositive and a 35mm internegative scanned in 4:4:4 24P resolution on a Spirit Datacine.
This Blu-ray release of Wings of Desire is leaps and bounds better than the Special Edition R1 SDVD MGM released a couple of years ago. Detail is fantastic, clarity great and contrast excellent throughout the entire film. The B&W sequences, in particular, look outstanding. The grain structure of the film is also fully intact. Additionally, neither edge-enhancement nor macroblocking are an issue of concern. There are no stability issues to report either - when blown through a digital projector, Wings of Desire looks great.
Criterion's Blu-ray release of Wings of Desire also looks notably healthier than the SDVD R1 release. Indeed, there are absolutely no disturbing scratches, debris, dirt, or stains to report. This being said, there are two scenes where a noticed a tiny but of chroma popping up, which is the only reason I am not giving Wings of Desire our highest score.
Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free player in order to access its content.
Wings of Desire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: German (with portions of English and French): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The soundtrack for Wings of Desire was originally created on an LTRT stereo format. The soundtrack for this Blu-ray release is presented in a multichannel format. Supervised and approved by director Wim Wenders, it has been remastered and remixed at 24-bit from the original 35mm stems.
I have absolutely no reservations with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track whatsoever. The dialog is crisp, clear and very easy to follow. Additionally, there are no disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report. The music - and especially Nick Cave's performances - sounds terrific. The bass, in particular, is rich and surprisingly potent. There are no balance issues to report either.
Wings of Desire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Angels Among Us - a documentary from 2003 containing interviews with director Wim Wenders; writer Peter Handke; actors Peter Falk, Bruno Ganz, and Otto Sander; Brad Silberling, director of City of Angels; and composer Jurgen Knieper. (44 min, 1080i/60).
Cinema Cinemas - "Wim Wenders Berlin Jan. 87" is from an episode of the French television program Cinema Cinemas. It was directed by Claude Ventura and first broadcast on February 17, 1987. (10 min, 1080i/60).
Deleted Scenes and Outtakes - nine deleted scenes accompanied by an audi documentary by director Wim Wenders. The outtakes are presented only with music. (1080i/60).
Gallery - a gallery of stills with information addressing their origin.
Alekan '85 - excerpted conversations with cinematographer Henri Alekan - shot by filmmaker Andre Bonzel in November 1985, when he was a student at the Belgian film school INSAS - taken from an unfinished documentary about the legendary cinematographer. (11 min, 1080i/60).
Alekan la lumiere - excerpts from the 1985 documentary Alekan la lumiere, in which legendary cinematographer Henri Alekan discusses his techniques with director Wim Wenders. The documentary first aired on French television on August 4, 1988, and was directed by Michel Dumoulin. (28 min, 1080i/60)
Remembrance - excerpts from a 1982 film directed by Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander about actor Curt Bois, who plays Homer in Wings of Desire. (30 min, 1080i/60).
Trailers - the German theatrical trailer (2 min, 1080p) and "Wen Wunderts" promo trailer (2 min, 1080i/60).
Audio commentary - the commentary features director Wim Wenders and star Peter Falk. It was edited in 2009 by independent DVD producer Mark Rance from over six hours of interviews he conducted in August and September 1996 and March 1997.
Booklet - a 30-page illustrated booklet containing "Song of Childhood" by Peter Handke, "Watch the Skies" by Michael Atkinson, "An Attempted Description of an Indescribable Film" by Wim Wenders, and notes about the transfer.
Wings of Desire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I love everything about this release - Wings of Desire looks and sounds great and there is a wealth of supplemental features on the disc to explore. I cannot wait to see what Criterion would do with Paris, Texas. Is it January yet? VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Wings of Desire Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - November 3rd - November 3, 2009
When 'Forrest Gump' received its theatrical release 15 years ago, the media quickly latched onto the realistic special effects used to insert Tom Hanks character into a number of historically significant film footage that can be seen throughout the film. ...
• Slight Delay for Three Criterion BDs (Update) - September 16, 2009
Retailers have been alerted that three upcoming Blu-ray titles from Criterion will delayed one or two weeks. 'Monsoon Wedding', initially announced for October 13, will street on October 20. In turn, 'Howards End' and 'Wings of Desire', previously slated for October ...
• Criterion October Wave: Howards End, Monsoon Wedding, Wings of De... - July 17, 2009
The Criterion Collection has just announced three very notable movies for release on Blu-ray: Mira Nair's 'Monsoon Wedding' will street on October 13, followed a week later by two other titles: James Ivory's 'Howards End' and Wim Wenders' 'Wings of Desire' (Der ...
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