Much like Werner Herzog, the German filmmaker who was the subject of last month’s German film feature, Wim Wenders is a highly respected and extremely talented filmmaker that seems to do it all. You may already be familiar with Wenders’ work from award-winning documentary films like The Buena Vista Social Club, Pina or English language dramas like Paris, Texas. Wenders seems unattached to any single language and a number of his films, including 1977’s The American Friend and 1993’s Faraway, So Close! — the latter of which is the sequel to the popular Wings of Desire — use a number of different languages to convey their stories. In addition to those well done and well-regarded films, Wenders also has a number of films in German. This month’s feature of German language films for German learners highlights some of Wim Wenders’ most notable German language films.
Der Himmel über Berlin
Also known by its English title, Wings of Desire, the film takes place in the German capital. The film stars Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander as angels who watch closely over the people of the city and can listen in to their very thoughts. When Ganz’s character falls in love with one of those people living, a beautiful trapeze artist, it becomes a difficult journey between the lives of the living and those we can no longer be with. The film alternates between color and black and white, depicting the point of view of the angels with the living.
In weiter Ferne, so nah!
The sequel to Der Himmel über Berlin, In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Faraway, So Close!) might not be quite as enveloping as its predecessor but it is just as moving. The film is a fascinating journey that follows familiar characters that we, the audience, have grown fond of. While it’s not completely in German, it sees the return of Ganz and Sander as well as the addition of notable names like Willem Dafoe and Nastassja Kinski.
Der Amerikanische Freund
A big screen adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game, Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend) is set in Hamburg, Germany. Dennis Hopper stars as Tom Ripley and Bruno Ganz as Jonathan Zimmermann, a terminally ill picture framer. Ripley, a professional con artist and criminal, manipulates Zimmermann into assisting him in his illegal activities. The film is thrilling and dark.
Looking for more German film suggestions? Check out my recommendations.
Top photo by Flickr user wvs.