Benjamin, Walter
  Bismarck, Otto v.
  Brecht, Bertolt
  Celan, Paul
  Döblin, Alfred
  Fontane, Theodor
  Grosz, George
  Grünbein, Durs
  Heartfield, John
  Honigmann, Barbara
  Isherwood, Christopher
  Johnson, Uwe
  Kleist, Heinrich v.
  Kollwitz, Käthe
  Kracauer, Siegfried
  Lang, Fritz
  Lasker-Schüler, Else
  Liebermann, Max
  Liebknecht, Karl
  Luxemburg, Rosa
  Marc, Franz
  Ossietzky, Carl v.
  Riefenstahl, Leni
  Ruttmann, Walther
  Schinkel, Karl Friedrich
  Speer, Albert
  Tieck, Ludwig
  Tucholsky, Kurt
  Ury, Lesser
  Varnhagen, Rahel
  Wenders, Wim


Wenders, Wim

General Info Milestones Biography Part 1 Biography Part 2 Quotes

Biography, Part 2

In 1978, Wenders went to the United States under contract to direct "Hammett" for Francis Ford Coppola, but after numerous difficulties with the script and Coppola, less than 30 percent of Wenders' original film made it into the final version released in 1983. The project cost him four years of his creative energies, and he would indirectly document the problems he encountered on it in "The State of Things" (1983), filmed during a long hiatus in the shooting of the detective picture. As frustrating as his work on "Hammett" had been, "Paris, Texas" (1984), based on a script by Sam Shepard about a reunion between a drifter and his family, returned him to the familiar terrain of the "road movie", an odyssey, if you will, of a man's journey to self-recognition. Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1984, it featured the stunning work of Muller and Przygodda and, in Wenders' own words, benefited from Shepard's involvement. "For once I was making a movie that wasn't meandering all over the place. That's what Sam brought to this movie of mine as an American writer; forward movement, which is very American in a way." Wenders' conclusion that alienation and existential angst are about the same on both sides of the Atlantic produced one of the fondest, most ambivalent movies ever made about America by a European. Wenders returned to Berlin to make "Wings of Desire," a lyrical, mostly black-and-white fantasia (remade as "City of Angels" 1998) starring Ganz as an angel who wanders the city, yearning for a physical, human existence. Many of the best moments of the film have no particular dramatic purpose but simply reveal what it is like to be forever an observer, almost making us understand Lucifer's choice in renouncing heaven for the suffering (the feeling) of Hell. The relative commercial success of the film, which earned Wenders the Best Director award at Cannes in 1987, led to the production of a sequel, "Faraway, So Close" (1993), which failed artistically because of too many plot strands forced arbitrarily on a private, meditative movie. "Until the End of the World" (1991) was a metaphysical detective romp of global dimensions, with William Hurt, Sam Neill, Solveig Dommartin and others pursuing each other around the world in search of a camera that enables blind people to "see". Half post-modernist road movie, half self-indulgent meditation on the nature of the recorded image, the result is a disappointingly banal exploration of some of Wenders' most cherished themes, as awful a film as a good director can make.

In "Lisbon Story", Wenders cast Vogler as a German sound recordist summoned across Europe by a postcard from a disillusioned director friend. When he arrives in Portugal, the director has vanished, leaving behind silent footage shot on an old hand-cranked camera (perhaps inspired by Wenders' participation in that year's "Lumiere and Company"). Unfortunately, his customary non-story, improvised during shooting, amounts to little more than a indigestible investigation into the nature of cinema, and can go only so far on its ambling charm. Much as he had for Ray, Wenders showed his affection for Michelangelo Antonioni by agreeing to direct the framing sequences of "Beyond the Clouds" (also 1995), a film that showed no diminishing in the old master's technical expertise. "The End of Violence" (1997), Wenders' first American film since "Paris, Texas", fell somewhere between art-house and commercial cinema, making the argument that compromising one's style to work in America is ultimately corrupting. Despite the gentleness and thoughtfulness of the approach and a beautifully clear widescreen image (Wenders' first film in Cinemascope) of Los Angeles looking better than it has in recent years, the dialogue readings were quicker, there were fewer extended scenes, and the shots lacked the poetic resonance of his best work, perhaps as a result of the abbreviated shooting schedule dictated by the busy schedules of the participants.


2001 BASELINE II, Inc. Celebrity Biographies

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