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: Wings of Desire (1987)  ( 7827 )
Juan Miranda
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« : August 25, 2010, 03:00:08 PM »

So I went to Berlin last month to see the huge Frida Kahlo retrospective at the Martin Gropius Bau, as y’ do. As a bit of research before going I screened Wim Wender’s 1988 classic WINGS OF DESIRE a few times, a film I hadn’t watched in years, and quickly became highly intrigued by it’s exterior locations. If nothing else, Der Himmel über Berlin (the original West German title) is a love letter to a city and I wondered how much these places had changed in the years since, and not just because of the obvious removal of the Wall. I had just three days to find out, packing in loads of other stuff too in my first trip to this still very schizophrenic place.

The movie memorably opens with Bruno Ganz’s angel standing on top of the bombed out Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedchtniskirche, left in its ruinous state as memorial to “all victims of war”.




In a short montage we fly to Mehringplatz, a residential, now largely immigrant, working class part of Berlin.




As you can see the angel statue in the background is not at home right now.

Next some arial footage I couldn't possibly hope to replicate swoops round the radio tower, the Funkturm, over the International Conference Centre (which must be one of the most hideous buildings in the world), and flys into the tenement buildings on Dernburgstraße to see the lives of its inhabitants.



ICC building and Funkturm


ICC building




I had hoped to shoot some pics from the top of the Funkturm itself, however like seemingly half of Berlin while I was there, it was covered in scaffolding and closed. This is the current state too of the gold angel statue, Siegessäule, which is why I didn’t shoot any pictures of it. Apparently much of the city has been in this sorry state for nearly a year with building and restoration projects began and abandoned.

So on to the next location where Bruno Ganz meets up with fellow angel Otto Sanders in a luxury car showroom on Kurfürstendamm And it’s still a luxury car showroom today for BMW though the layout is very different. It’s across the road from the Paris Cinema which was, of course, closed and covered in scaffolding.




The next set of exteriors finds Ganz at the foot of a high rise block complex on Franz Klühs Straßea, a very short stroll away from Mehringplatz




and he discovers the Circus Alekan (named after the production’s veteran cinematographer).





Marion’s trailer


The site of Marion’s trailer today, approx

As you can see, this area has changed immensely. Once a bare piece of waste ground, now it’s a tree lined, landscaped park, with many of the surrounding buildings demolished and replaced. However it’s in a part of Berlin you’d never dream of visiting as a tourist, and this was one of the great things about this project, it took me to places which gave me a more rounded view of the place in a very short time.

Three important scenes take place on or under bridges, and the first of these involves the dying motorcyclist on the Langenscheidbrücke.










Looking towards the Julius-Leber-Brücke S-bahn station

Thanks to the gasometer I was able to find the location fairly easily.


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« #1 : August 25, 2010, 03:02:05 PM »

Next Otto Sander finds a young girl prostituting herself under the Gleisdreieck U-bahn bridge, segueing into the car journey through time.



I couldn’t replicate this as it’s shot from private property, the headquarters of Bombardier Transportation GmbH HQ










The next bridge scene takes place on Lohmühlenbruecke, apparently smack bang against the Wall. In fact the film makers were not allowed to film next to it, and all the Wall scenes were shot against fakes, though the actual Wall ran so close to the movie version here it’s odd they weren’t shot at when they built the thing. This is the most Eastern location used.










Given the film’s plot I was happy to find posters advertising a Circus all round this area.


Line marking the actual course of the Wall.




Next Peter Falk visits the station “with the funny name”, the Anhalter Bahnhof. Not destroyed during the war, but in 1970 when, rumour still has it a corrupt government official got a good deal selling off the bricks.





He speaks to Ganz for the fist time at a coffee stall next to the Anhalter Bunker, one of the few surviving Nazi buildings in the city (16,000 civilians were crammed in here by the time of Hitler’s last birthday with no running water). A U-bahn station entrance has been built on this site and it’s impossible to get to now. Some walls are torn down, others go up.




Ganz falls to Earth and sells his armour in an antiques shop on Goebenstraße. The building is gone and the number seen here was a fake (this side of the street are all odd numbers).








And back to the Circus Alekan. The actual site of this is very hard to determine now as the park by Franz Klühs Straßea is so different.






Only a tiny part of this mural on the back of the Weißbecker Haus (an art covered tenement) can still be seen in the summer.


It seems as though the Circus is somehow commemorated though. As much as I could work out, this (vandalised) circular play area sits on top of the site of the Big Top.



The metal walkways nearby are hidden now by trees.




Finally Marion meets Colombo at a coffee stall outside a well sign posted U-bahn station. Not hard to find this location, but I ran out of time and could not take my own picture of it (though Google Earth confirms that there is no coffee stall there today).

Thanks to the wonders of DVD frame captures, Google Earth and Panoramia a few hours of research on the internet lead me to these places. The trickiest one to track down was the location of the Circus which I found using a German title search just when I was ready to give up. There are still major knowledge gaps though, as you’ll know if the film is important to you. Oh well, maybe next time.


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« #2 : August 25, 2010, 04:16:47 PM »

Great work, Juan! O0 O0 O0

Can't wait to see what you can do with shots from Faraway, So Close. ;D



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« #3 : August 25, 2010, 04:46:05 PM »

Faraway, So Close. ;D

Now now Dave. You know that along with GODFATHER III and ALIEN III that never actually happened.


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« #4 : August 25, 2010, 06:22:56 PM »

Not in our world, of course. But travelers to a parallel dimension have reported seeing them there.



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« #5 : August 25, 2010, 10:24:20 PM »

Oh my God! Man, I was there myself just three weeks ago. Goddamnit if you'd done this a bit sooner, I could have visited those places, too. I did basically no research, though, I don't even have the movie on DVD. BUT I have something you (evidently) don't have: interior shots from the library! I'll post them ASAP. Or as soon as I can get them from my sister, whose camera I used.


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« #6 : August 26, 2010, 06:27:39 AM »

 :D moviesceleton, I was only able to post that stuff last night as I've got this week off work, there's a fair amount of time, effort and research in that post.

Finally was able to read through my Frida Kahlo exhibition catalogue too this week. May even see the whole thing again in Vienna before most it goes back to Mexico or vanishes back into private collections.


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« #7 : September 03, 2010, 09:25:32 AM »

Wow, thank you very much for posting these.  O0



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« #8 : September 03, 2010, 01:53:10 PM »

I have the DVD somewhere, hopefully will watch it soon.




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« #9 : September 03, 2010, 02:14:24 PM »

For me one of the most beautiful films ever. Masterpiece 10/10

After Wings of Desire Wenders declined.


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« #10 : September 07, 2010, 06:12:02 PM »

After Wings of Desire Wenders declined.

Agreed.


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« #11 : September 08, 2010, 02:07:21 AM »

I've only seen Paris, Texas (that I LOVE) and The American Friend (that was ok). Which one would you advise me (appart from Wings of Desire, that has been on my to-watch list for years now... I own a VHS I recorded myself... but have nothing to play it)?



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« #12 : September 08, 2010, 07:28:45 AM »

Which one would you advise me (appart from Wings of Desire

ALICE IN THE CITIES is a lovely film. KING'S OF THE ROAD is one of my friend's fave movies of all time but I find the protaganists annoying. I haven't seen that much of Wenders output, and the double stink whammy of FARAWAY, SO CLOSE! and UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD meant I haven't any of his new work since 1993.

I blame Bono.


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« #13 : September 08, 2010, 12:06:27 PM »

The State of the Things is also brilliant. For me his best.


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« #14 : September 10, 2010, 12:30:44 PM »

I second all the above recommendations.



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