I would really like to like this film, but I don't. From watching this film you get the impression that Wim Wenders loves cinema, and would like to express what he loves about cinema, but is incapable of expressing this feeling because he does not know how to use the medium. Also he has certain pretentions that do not serve his content.

The basic storyline has obvious references to cinema. Angels wander around Berlin, watching people, and hearing their thoughts, helping them through spiritual uplift despite the fact that they cannot be seen. The thoughts of everyone in the film are unusually poetic, but that is inevitable in this type of movie. The angels though cannot feel anything unless they give up their "angelness." One angel falls in love (with a trapeeze artist), and decides to give up being an angel so he can pursue the woman he loves. Then the film ends with them falling in love at first sight.

By this description of the film you should be able to see both the strong points of the movie, and its ridiculous points. First of all, the angels are clearly film spectators, they watch people but cannot feel anything, they know the person's thoughts, they have the inevitable affection for people that one gets from watching cinema, but the characters have to give up cinema for the real life, which of course is not a neccesity of real cinema. The love affair is poorly developed, and it seems that his affection for her, is an affection for what he gave up to go after her.

While I totally support incomplete metaphors, the metaphors in the film seem complete, but bad. The ambivalence towards the experience of watching film seems like a hackneyed counter-positioning of experience and knowledge, which does poor credit to the interaction of experience and knowledge.

There might be a defensive arguement that the angel only really experiences life because he was first a cinema viewer, but it would take a lot of work to come to that conclusion, and I get the impression that Wenders doesn't really care if we get that far.

No comments: