Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire”

I love this film. What I want to show you is the clip below. For context, the taller guy in the black coat is an angel, Cassiel. In the film, angels cannot touch anything or even talk to humans, they can only observe humans and record their thoughts. Cassiel has been listening to this old man in the library, and he is walking with him here and listening to him reminiscing.

If you watch carefully then you can see that as the old man goes to sit down he stumbles a bit, and Cassiel goes to steady him. I thought that was a really nice touch from the director. The angels obviously care about the humans, but they can never interact with them, so it is a caring but ultimately useless gesture from Cassiel.

Then I listened to the director’s commentary and heard something that really tickled me. The older actor is Curt Bois, a well-respected actor with over 80 years acting experience. Wenders says that he was quite a joker, and started falling backwards at the end of takes, forcing Otto Sander (Cassiel) to catch him. Then he started falling backwards during takes, until Otto had to be ready to catch him at any moment. So Cassiel really was getting ready to catch the old man in case he fell.

What I thought was a beautiful moment carefully crafted and selected by a director was actually a beautiful moment created by an old guy fucking around. That’s improv.

I can easily recommend the film if you haven’t seen it. It’s beautiful.


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