Trailer and Details for Major Wim Wenders Retrospective, Touring Nationwide

Written by on August 7, 2015 

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One of the major figures in New German Cinema (watch a documentary on the movement) was Wim Wenders, who continues to produce fantastic work today, including the recent pair of documentaries, Pina and this year’s The Salt of the Earth. For those looking to go deeper into his filmography, the best chance yet will be offered up at the end of the summer and continuing through the fall.

Janus Films announced today that the 12-film touring retrospective “Wim Wenders: Portraits Along The Road” will first stop by NYC’s IFC Center on August 28th before going to more than 15 cities nationwide in the following months, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Houston, Austin and Vancouver.

Including some of his major films such as Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, the retrospective also includes his epic, 295-minute cut of Until the End of the World, created two years after the distributor’s forced theatrical cut. Undergoing a mix of 2K and 4K restorations, one can see more details on every title below, an overview of how the series came to be, and an excellent trailer.

For decades, some of Wim Wenders’ films either remained unavailable due to unresolved rights clearances or could only been seen in poor quality due to material damages. In the fall of 2012, together with his wife Donata, Wim Wenders established the Wim Wenders Stiftung in Düsseldorf, with the goal of restoring Wenders’ work and making it permanently accessible to the general public worldwide. The foundation began to digitally restore the films in 2014 and as a result of this work, the public is today once again able to experience these films in optimal quality. The Wim Wenders Stiftung digitally restored eight films over the course of one year. Image processing was done by the company ARRI Film & TV under the supervision of Wim and Donata Wenders and was supported by grants from the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and the centre national de la cinématographie (cnc). Further films were transferred to current state-of-the-art high-resolution digital formats in order to be able to show them in cinemas and on television. The foundation will continue to pursue the preservation of the cinematic work of Wim Wenders and to thus make it accessible to the public on a permanent basis.

THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK (1971) 100m.

West Germany/Austria; Original Language: German

Format: 35mm color, 1:1,37; Stereo

4K Restoration and new sound mixing 2014, 4K DCP

The goalkeeper Josef Bloch (Arthur Brauss) is sent off after committing a foul during an away game. This causes him to completely lose his bearings. He wanders aimlessly through the unfamiliar town, spends the night with the box-office attendant of a movie theater (Erika Pluhar) and strangles her the next morning. But instead of turning himself in or fleeing, Bloch then goes to his ex-girlfriend’s (Kai Fischer) place in the country and passively waits there for the police to come and arrest him. As Wenders himself has stated, the visual idiom of Hitchcock’s films provided the model for his debut film. He adheres minutely to the thoroughly “cinematic” source, a novella by Peter Handke. With his cameraman Robby Müller and his cutter Peter Przygodda – both of whom had already worked with him on his film thesis at the HFF (Munich University of Television and Film) – in THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY, he set forth a collaboration that would weld this team together for years.”

ALICE IN THE CITIES (1973/1974) 112m.

West Germany ; Original Language: German

Format: 16mm blow up to 35mm black and white; 1:1,37; Stereo

4K Scan and 2K Restoration 2014, 2K DCP

Technically, ALICE IN THE CITIES is Wenders’s fourth film, but he himself often refers to it as “his first,” because it was during this film that he discovered the genre of the road movie. (It would later become the first part of his Road Movie Trilogy, together with WRONG MOVE and KINGS OF THE ROAD.) It was also his first film to be shot partly in the US and the first to feature his alter ego, Phillip Winter (Rüdiger Vogler). ALICE is often compared with Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID. In 1974 it won the German Critics Prize. The German journalist Phillip Winter wants to write a story about America, but is unable to accomplish anything but a series of Polaroids before disappointedly beginning his journey back home. At the same time, he reluctantly agrees to take little Alice (Yella Rottländer) with him, because her mother (Lisa Kreuzer)- whom he meets in New York on the day before his departure-has urgent business to take care of there. In Amsterdam, the mother then fails to appear as they had agreed, and so Winter and Alice set out to try to find Alice’s grandmother in the Ruhr region. During their search together, their initial mutual dislike gradually transforms into a heart-felt affection.

KINGS OF THE ROAD (1975) 175m.

West Germany ; Original Language: German

Format: 35mm black and white; 1:1.66; Sound

4K Restoration 2014, 4K DCP

KINGS OF THE ROAD is about a friendship between two men: Bruno, aka “King of the Road” (Rüdiger Vogler), who repairs film projectors and travels along the inner-German border in his truck, and the psychologist Robert, aka “Kamikaze” (Hanns Zischler), who is fleeing from his own past. When Robert drives his old VW straight into the Elbe river, he is fished out by Bruno. This is the beginning of their shared journey through a german No Man’s land, a journey that leads them from the Lüneburg Heath to the Bavarian Forest. Wenders began the film without a script. Instead there was a route that he had scouted out beforehand: all of the little towns along the Wall that still contained a movie theater in this era of cinematic mass extinction. The old moving van with the film projectors in the back becomes a metaphor of the history of film – it is no coincidence that the film is dedicated to Fritz Lang. This “men’s story” also treats the themes of the absence of women, of loneliness and of post-war Germany. At one point Bruno says to Robert: “The Yankees have colonized our subconscious.”

WRONG MOVE (1975) 103m.

West Germany ; Original Language: German

Format: 35mm Colour; 1:1,66; Sound

NOTE: THIS RESTORATION IS STILL UNDERWAY, AND THIS TITLE WILL NOT BE PLAYING AT SOME OF THE EARLIER STOPS OF THE TOURING RETROSPECTIVE 

Glückstadt in northern Germany, Bonn, a palace along the Rhine, a housing project on the outskirts of Frankfurt and finally the Zugspitze-these are the stations of the journey that the young Wilhelm Meister (Rüdiger Vogler) hopes will save him from the gloomy irritability and despondency that plague him in his home town. In unfamiliar places, he thinks that he will be able to do what he has always had an uncontrollable drive to do-to write. He wants to become an author. With the journey, which his mother (Marianne Hoppe) gives him permission to make, he hopes to broaden his horizons and, above all, to find himself. In Goethe’s novel “Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship”, which provided the source material for Peter Handke’s script, a journey of this kind was still a “genuine movement.” In the literature of the 19th century, particularly in the German bildungsroman, the topos of the journey is always linked to lastingly significant changes and experiences. Traveling is synonymous with the successful search for one’s own identity. But the Wilhelm of WRONG MOVE must arrive at the painful recognition that-today-a journey alone no longer leads to the desired goal. His path leads him into an unbroken series of failures, through his own fault and that of all the people he meets on his way: the street singer Laertes (Hans Christian Blech) struggling with his Nazi past, the mute girl Mignon (Nastassja Kinski in her first role), the poet

(Peter Kern), and the actress Therese (Hanna Schygulla).

THE AMERICAN FRIEND (1976/1977) 126m.

West Germany/France ; Language: German, English, French

Format: 35mm Eastmancolor; 1:1.66; Stereo

4K Restoration 2014, 4K DCP

In 1977, THE AMERICAN FRIEND won the German Critics Prize as well as gold in two categories of the German Film Prize and is now considered a cult film. Wenders adapted Patricia Highsmith’s novel Ripley’s Game for the film. Jonathan Zimmermann (Bruno Ganz) believes that he will soon die of leukemia. The unscrupulous American Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper), learns of this and exploits Zimmermann’s illness for his own purposes. He introduces Jonathan to the underworld figure Minot (Gérard Blain), who offers to hire the terminally ill man as a professional hit man. He is to be paid appropriately for his work and thus enabled to leave something behind for his wife (Lisa Kreuzer) and their child. What does he have to lose, since he is going to die anyway? A friendship develops between the two very different men, and this ultimately leads Ripley to intervene when Zimmermann proves incapable of carrying out an additional murder. The cast of Wenders’s film includes not only the directors Dennis Hopper and Gérard Blain-many of the supporting roles of gangsters are also played by fellow directors, such as Hollywood legends Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray, as well as Peter Lilienthal, Daniel Schmid and Jean Eustache.

THE STATE OF THINGS (1981/82) 121m

West Germany ; Language: English, French

Format: 35mm black and white and coulor; 1:1,66; Stereo

THE STATE OF THINGS is a highly personal film about filmmaking in Europe and America. It is about a film crew stranded at the most western tip of Europe. Director Friedrich Munroe (Patrick Bauchau), cameraman (Sam Fuller), scriptwriter and actors have been abandoned by their producer. After shooting their last feet of film (they are working on the remake of a low-budget sci-fi thriller), there is nothing left to do but wait. Friedrich finally sets out for Los Angeles to search for the missing producer (Allen Goorwitz). He finally finds him on Sunset Boulevard, in his RV, where he is hiding out from the mafiosi or loan sharks who are after him. The two have to pay with their lives for their black-and-white film adventure the following morning. Friedrich continues to “put up a fight” by “shooting back” with his Super 8 camera until the moment of his death. Wenders’ parable on filmmaking has also been interpreted as his way of addressing the difficulties that he faced during the production of HAMMETT, his first film in the US.

TOKYO-GA (1983-1985) 92m.

West Germany/USA ; Language: English, Japanese

Format: 16mm; Eastmancolor; 1:1.33; sound

4K Scan and 2K Restoration 2014, 2K DCP

Excerpt of Wenders’s narrating voice: “If there were still sanctuaries in our century… if there was something like a holy treasure of cinema, for me, that would be the work of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. He made 54 films. Silent movies in the 1920s, black and white films in the 1930s and 1940s and finally color films until his death on the 12th December 1963, on his 60th birthday. Although these films are distinctly Japanese, they are also global. In them I recognized all families, in all the countries in the world, as well as my own parents, my brother and myself. Never before and never again was film so close to its essence and its purpose. Showing an image of the human in our century. A useable, true and valid image, one in which he cannot only see himself but rather learn something about himself. Ozu’s work doesn’t need my appraisal. And such a “holy treasure of cinema” is just imaginary. So my journey to Tokyo was no pilgrimage. I was curious to see if I could discover something from this time, whether something was left of his work, images perhaps, or people even… Or if in the 20 years since Ozu’s death so much changed in Tokyo that there was nothing left to be found.

PARIS, TEXAS (1983/1984) 148m.

West Germany/France ; Language: English

Format: 35mm colour; 1:1.66; Stereo

4K Scan L’immagine Ritrovata and 2K Restoration Éclair Group 2014, 2K DCP

PARIS, TEXAS is considered Wenders’ best-known and internationally most successful film. Celebrated by critics, it won a series of important international awards, including the Palme d’Or at Cannes. This unconventional road movie is based on a script by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard and tells the story of Travis (Harry Dean Stanton), a man who wanders out of Mexico and into Texas one day, in the blazing heat of the “Big Bend”. Travis does not speak a word. He also seems to have largely lost his memory. But he is driven by his wish to find his family again: his young wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski), whose life he seems to have placed in danger through his pathological jealousy, and his seven-year-old son Hunter (Hunter Carson). For four years Travis was thought to be dead. His brother Walt (Dean Stockwell) flies from LA to Texas to bring back his lost brother. Walt and his wife Ann (Aurore Clément) have become Hunter’s foster parents. It is very difficult for the two of them to now give this role up again, especially when they learn that Travis wants to go out in search of Jane together with his son. They know nothing about her, except that she probably lives in Houston … In addition to the impressive performances by Harry Dean Stanton as Travis and Nastassja Kinski as Jane, PARIS, TEXAS has also become a cult film on account of the unique soundtrack by Ry Cooder.

WINGS OF DESIRE (1986/87) 128m.

West Germany/France ; Language: German, French, English

Format: 35mm black and white and colour; 1:1.66; Sound

2K DCP (HD-Scan criterion 2010), 4K Restoration scheduled for 2016

WINGS OF DESIRE marked Wenders’s “homecoming” and was his first German film after eight years in America. The main characters are guardian angels-benevolent, invisible beings in trench coats-who listen to the thoughts of mortals and attempt to comfort them. One of them, Damiel (Bruno Ganz), wishes to become human after he falls in love with the beautiful trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin). Peter Falk, played by himself, helps him during his transformation, by introducing him to life’s little pleasures. The film is narrated from the perspective of the angels, who see the world in black and white. Only when Damiel becomes human does the world of color reveal itself to him. He leaves behind his old friend Cassiel (Otto Sander), who continues to be accompanied by Homer (Curt Bois), the “storyteller of humanity.” The film has achieved cult status all around the world; in 1998, it was remade under the title CITY OF ANGELS, which features Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan in the lead roles.

NOTEBOOK ON CITIES AND CLOTHES (1988/89) 81m.

West Germany/ France ; Language: English, Japanese

Format: 35mm; color, 1:1.37; stereo

4K Restoration 2014, 4K DCP

This “diary film” as Wenders called it, investigates the similarities of his craft, filmmaking and that of the Tokyo based fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. In the early 1980s, he shocked and revolutionized the fashion world. Wenders shot the film mainly on his own as a one-man team. During the shooting, which stretched over the course of a year, Yamamoto and Wenders became friends. Extracts from Wenders narrating voice of the film: “Fashion. I got nothing to do with that. At least that was my reaction when the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris asked me if I would like to make a short film about a fashion designer.” “The world of fashion. I am interested in the world, not in fashion. But maybe my judgement was premature. Why shouldn’t I try to approach the topic without prejudices. Why not look at fashion like any other industry, the film industry for example?” “Filmmaking…should sometimes just be a way of life. Like going for a walk, reading a newspaper, writing something down, driving a car, or making this film. From day to day it writes itself, driven by the curiosity for the topic.”

UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD (DIRECTOR’S CUT) (1990/91) 295m.

Germany/France/Australia  ; Language: English

Format: Super 35mm Eastmancolor; 1:1.66; Dolby Stereo

4K Restoration 2014, 4K DCP

UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD is “the ultimate road movie,” a journey around the globe, a modern-day odyssey – and it certainly bears similarities to Homer’s saga. However, the aim of this journey is the spiritual reconciliation between an obsessed father and his lost son – and, in UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD, Penelope decides to set out in pursuit of Odysseus. In order to enable his blind wife (Jeanne Moreau) to see, Dr. Farber (Max von Sydow) invents a process that makes it possible to transmit the images recorded in the brain of sighted people directly into the visual system of blind people. Farber’s son Sam (William Hurt) sets out on a journey around the world in order to “see” and record the various stations of his mother’s life for her. The French woman Margot (Solveig Dommartin) falls in love with him and sets out in pursuit of him. She in turn is followed by the author Eugene (Sam Neill), who is recording her adventure. The film was shot in 1990 and takes place in what was then the near future, around the turn of the millennium. What most interests Wenders here is how humanity learns to deal with images – or becomes their victim. Eugene notes: “In the beginning was the word. What would happen if only the image remained in the end!?” Frustrated with the “Reader’s Digest” version of his film, which was forced upon him by his distributors, Wenders created a director’s cut two years after the film’s release: At a length of almost four hours, it lives up to his intentions and to the epic nature of the story.

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB (1998/99) 105m.

Germany/USA ; Original Language: English, Spanish

Format: Digital Betacam, transferred to 35mm, color; 1:1,85; Dolby Stereo Digital

With a small film crew, Wim Wenders accompanied his old friend Ry Cooder, who had previously written the music for PARIS, TEXAS and THE END OF VIOLENCE, on a trip to Havana. Cooder wanted to record his material for Ibrahim Ferrer’s solo album at a studio there – following the first “Buena Vista Social Club” CD (which had not yet been released at that time). Wenders immersed himself in the world of Cuban music. Over the course of several months, he observed and accompanied the musicians – first at home in Havana and then, weeks later, in April 1998, on their trip to Amsterdam for the first public performance of the band (who had never played together outside a studio) and then, still later, in July 1998, to their triumphal concert in New York’s Carnegie Hall. He thus followed the old heroes of the traditional Cuban Son music on their path from being completely forgotten to becoming world famous – within the period of just a few months. “I thought I’ll shoot a documentary,” Wenders said, “and here we were, about to witness a fairy tale that no one could have imagined in this form.” The music documentary became a cinematic sensation and an international success. Along with an Academy Award nomination for the best documentary film, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB won this category of the European Film Awards, the German Film Prize in Gold, Germany’s Golden Camera and the Grand Prize for Film in Brazil as well as numerous other awards.

Which films are you looking forward to seeing?


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