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Wenders, Wim

WENDERS, Wim



Nationality: German. Born: Wilhelm Wenders in Düsseldorf, 14 August 1945. Education: Studied medicine and philosophy; studied at Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film, Munich, 1967–70. Career: Film critic in Munich for Süddeutsche Zeitung and Filmkritik, late 1960s; professional filmmaker, from 1971. Awards: Golden Lion, Venice Festival, for The State of Things, 1982; Best Director, Cannes Festival, for Wings of Desire, 1987. Agent: c/o Gary Salt, The Paul Kohner Agency, 9169 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069, U.S.A.


Films as Director:

1967

Schauplätze (Locations) (short); Same PlayerShootsAgain (short)

1968

Silver City (short); Victor I (short)

1969

Alabama—2,000 Light Years (short); Drei amerikanischeLPs (Three American LPs) (short)

1970

Polizeifilm (Police Film) (short); Summer in the City (Dedicated to the Kinks) (diploma film)

1971

Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Goalie's Anxietyat the Penalty Kick)

1972

Der scharlachrote Buchstabe (The Scarlet Letter)

1973

Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities)

1974

Aus der Familie der Panzerechsen (From the Family of theCrocodilia) (short, for TV); Die Insel (The Island) (short, for TV); Falsche Bewegung (Wrong Movement)

1976

Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road; In the Course of Time)

1977

Der amerikanische Freund (The American Friend)

1981

Lightning over Water (Nick's Film)

1982

Hammett; Der Stand der Dinge (The State of Things)

1984

Paris, Texas ; Room 666 (doc)

1985

Tokyo-Ga (doc)

1987

Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire)

1989

Aufzeichnungen zu Kleidern und Städten (Notebook on Citiesand Clothes) (doc)

1991

Until the End of the World

1993

In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Faraway, So Close)

1995

Lisbon Story; Beyond the Clouds (co-d with Antonioni)

1997

The End of Violence (+ pr)

1999

Buena Vista Social Club (doc) (+ sc)

2000

The Million Dollar Hotel (+ pr)



Other Films:

1985

I Played It for You (Blakley) (role)

1987

Helsinki Napoli: All Night Long (Mika Kaurismaki); YerDemir, Gok Bakir (Livaneli) (pr)

1990

Isabelle Eberhardt (Pringle) (pr)

2000

Delivering Milo (Castle) (pr)



Publications


By WENDERS: books—

The Film by Wim Wenders: Kings of the Road (In the Course of Time), with Fritz Müller-Scherz, Munich, 1976.

Nick's Film—Lightning over Water, with Chris Sievernich, Frankfurt, 1981.

Paris, Texas, with Sam Shepard, Berlin, 1984.

Written in the West: Photographien aus dem amerikanische Western, Munich, 1987.

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema, London, 1989.

The Logic of Images: Essays and Conversations, London, 1992.

My Time with Antonioni, translated by Michael Hofmann, New York, 2000.

Signs and Relics, with Sylvia Plachy, New York, 2000.


By WENDERS: articles—

"Alice in den Städten," an interview with W. E. Bühler and P. B. Kleiser, in Filmkritik (Munich), March 1974.

"Wim Wenders über Im Lauf der Zeit," an interview with H. Wiedemann and F. Müller-Scherz, in Film und Ton (Munich), May 1976.

"Wenders on Kings of the Road," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), July 1977.

"King of the Road," an interview with Carlos Clarens, in FilmComment (New York), September/October 1977.

"Filming Highsmith," an interview with Jan Dawson, in Sight andSound (London), Winter 1977/78.

Interview with P. Lehman and others, in Wide Angle (Athens, Ohio), vol. 2, no. 4, 1978.

Interviews with Serge Daney, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1980 and June 1982.

Interview with Richard Combs, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), March 1983.

Interview with John Gallagher, in Films in Review (New York), June/July 1983.

Interview with Michel Ciment and Hubert Niogret, in Positif (Paris), September 1984.

Interview with K. Dieckman, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1984/85.

Interview with Coco Fusco, in Cineaste (New York), vol. 16, no. 4, 1988.

Interview with Robert Seidenberg, in American Film (Washington, D.C.), vol. 13, no. 8, 1988.

Interview with L. Antoccia, in Films and Filming (London), August 1988.

Interview with Sean Penn, in Interview (New York), January 1992.

"Wenders's Wanderlust," an interview with James Greenberg, in Connoisseur (New York), January 1992.

"Wim Wenders's Guilty Pleasures," in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1992.

"Until the End of the World," an interview with A.M. Bahiana, in Cinema Papers (Fitzroy), May-June 1992.

"Sleeping with Guns," an interview with Manohla Dargis, in Sightand Sound (London), May 1997.

"Crime Scene," an interview with S. Macaulay, in Filmmaker: TheMagazine of Independent Film (Los Angeles), no. 1, 1997.

"Wim's of Desire," an interview with David Eimer, in Time Out (London), 7 January 1998.


On WENDERS: books—

Dawson, Jan, Wim Wenders: Cinema as Vision and Desire, New York, 1976.

Geist, Kathe, The Cinema of Wim Wenders 1967–77, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1981.

Johnston, Sheila, Wim Wenders, London, 1981.

Buchka, Peter, Augen Kann man nicht Kaufen: Wim Wenders undseine Filme, Munich, 1983.

Franklin, James, New German Cinema from Oberhausen to Hamburg, Boston, 1983.

Grob, Norbert, Die Formen des filmische Blicks: Wenders: Diefruhen Filmwe, Munich, 1984.

Phillips, Klaus, editor, New German Filmmakers: From Oberhausenthrough the 1970s, New York, 1984.

Devillers, Jean-Pierre, Berlin, L.A., Berlin: Wim Wenders, Paris, 1985.

Geist, Kathe, The Cinema of Wim Wenders: From Paris, France, toParis, Texas, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1988.

Rentschler, Eric, editor, West German Filmmakers on Film: Visionsand Voices, New York, 1988.

Boujut, Michel, Wim Wenders: Un Voyage dans ses films, Paris, 1989.

Elsaesser, Thomas, New German Cinema: A History, London, 1989.

Estève, Michel, Wim Wenders, Paris, 1989.

Joyce, Paul, Motion and Emotion: The Films of Wim Wenders, London, 1989.

Künzel, Uwe, Wim Wenders: Ein Filmbuch, 3rd edition, Freiburg, 1989. Grob, Norbert, Wenders, Berlin, 1991.

Kolker, Robert Phillip, and Peter Beiken, The Films of Wim Wenders, New York, 1993.


On WENDERS: articles—

Rayns, Tony, "Forms of Address," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1974/75.

Ghali, N., "Dossier-auteur: Wim Wenders," in Cinéma (Paris), December 1976.

Covino, M., "Wim Wenders: A Worldwide Homesickness," in FilmQuarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1977/78.

Stamelman, P., "Wenders at Warners," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1978.

Corrigan, Timothy J., "The Realist Gesture in the Films of Wim Wenders: Hollywood and the New German Cinema," in Quarterly Review of Film Studies (Pleasantville, New York), Spring 1980.

"Wenders Issue" of Caméra/Stylo (Paris), January 1981.

"Alice dans les villes Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), 1 May 1981.

Bishop, R., and T. Ryan, "Wim Wenders: An American Saga," in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), August 1984.

Wim Wenders Section of Cinéma (Paris), September 1984.

Wim Wenders Section of Positif (Paris), September 1984.

Ranvaud, Don, "Paris, Texas to Sydney," and John Pym, "The Road from Wuppertal," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1984.

Combs, Richard, "Ich Bin Ein Englander or Show Me the Way to Go Home," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), May 1985.

Corrigan, Timothy, "Cinematic Snuff: German Friends and Narrative Murders," in Cinema Journal (Champaign, Illinois), Winter 1985.

Geist, Kathe, "Filmmaking as Research: Wim Wenders's The Stateof Things," in Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), Winter 1986.

Snyder, Stephen, "Wim Wenders: The Hunger Artist in America," in Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), Winter 1987.

American Friends Section of Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 16, no. 3, 1988.

Paneth, Ira, "Wim and His Wings," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), vol. 42, no. 1, 1988.

Green, Peter, "Germans Abroad," in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1988.

Riley, Vikki, "From Dusseldorf to Los Angeles and the Journey Back," in Filmnews, July 1991.

Levy, Sean, "Until the End of the World: Wim Wenders's Dance around the Planet," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), January/February 1992.

Andrew, Geoff, "Wenders Way," in Time Out (London), 29 June 1994.

Falkowska, J., "American and European Voices in the Films of European Filmmakers Wim Wenders, Percy Adlon, and Aki Kaurismaki," in Canadian Journal of Film Studies (Ottawa), no. 1, 1997.

Horton, Robert, "Wim Wenders On the Road Again," in FilmComment (New York), March-April 1997.


* * *

Of the three young German filmmakers who achieved the greatest international fame in the 1970s as the vanguard of a German New Wave, Wim Wenders had perhaps a less radical though no less distinctive film style than his compatriots R. W. Fassbinder and Werner Herzog. Though critics typically cite American influences upon Wenders's "road trilogy" of the mid-1970s, there is a greater affinity with the modernist tradition of the European "art film" exemplified by the Antonioni of L'avventura and Red Desert—dramas of alienation in which restless, unrooted individuals wander through haunted, sterile, but bleakly beautiful landscapes within a free-floating narrative structure. (It is most appropriate that Wenders has directed the "frame" sections for some short pieces by the aged Italian master.) True, the ennui in these films shades into angst and American Beat gestures, and the alienation has strong roots in the spiritual yearning, the love of loneliness and wandering, of German Romanticism. Romanticism seems too to be at the root of Wenders's conception of himself (well articulated in numerous interviews) as an artist: one who evolves spiritually with each work, or reaches dead ends (as he has called The State of Things) from which he must break out; and who sees each new work as an adventure, not to be mapped out too much in advance.

A crucial observation about Wenders's art is found in cinematographer Ed Lachman's remark that "light and landscape are actors" in his films. Wenders's characters are typically revealed against urban or rural landscapes, upon which the camera frequently lingers as the actors pass from the frame. Most of the films take place predominantly out-of-doors (the studio sets of Hammett making that film all the more of an anomaly), or offer striking views from high-rise windows and moving vehicles. The urban views most often suggest sterility but have a certain grandeur, sharing with his views of desert (Paris, Texas) or sea (The State of Things) that vastness the Romantics called "sublime." The climactic scene in the peep-show booth in Paris, Texas is all the more powerful and inventive in the context of the epic vistas of the rest of the film. And the urban scene finally becomes the central "actor" in Wings of Desire/Himmel über Berlin, indeed a "Symphony of a Great City," in which the Wall is no barrier to the gliding camera or the angelic inhabitants.

Wenders's films are dialectical: they structure contrasts not as simple polarities but as rich ongoing dialogue, and the later films seem to be in dialogue with the earlier ones. Among the central concerns from film to film are American versus European culture, the creation of mood versus tight narrative, a sense of "home" versus rootless "freedom", and even black-and-white versus color photography.

Wenders's ambivalent fascination with America has been a favorite topic for critics. None of his films is without interest in this regard, but Alice in the Cities is the first to be shot partially in America—a world of boardwalks, motels, neon, and skyscrapers, though still not so different from the urban, industrial Europe of the second half; it is also his first feature to make extensive use of American music, including the Chuck Berry concert in Wuppertal. The American Friend is a dizzying vortex of allusiveness, with its gangsters and cowboys, iconographic presences of Nicholas Ray and Dennis Hopper, miniature Statue of Liberty in Paris, Ripley's digs in Hamburg, hints of an allegory of the American film industry in Germany (the pornographers seducing the hapless framemaker), and a narrative derived from a novel by an expatriate American and strongly echoing Strangers on a Train. Wenders's "American period" from Hammett through Paris, Texas is of course of central interest here, with a whimsically mystical and lyrical embracing of humanity and the particulars of physical life that recalls Walt Whitman. Wenders still calls his production company "Road Movies" (in English).

The mid-1970s films may owe much to the American "road movie" of a few years earlier (themselves echoing Kerouac's On the Road), but the classical Hollywood cinema is defined by its tight narrative structures, and Wenders can be felt to be wrestling with such a structure in The American Friend. He has said of Paris, Texas, in a Film Quarterly interview, "For once I was making a movie that wasn't meandering all over the place. That's what Sam [Shepard] brought to this movie of mine as an American writer: forward movement, which is very American in a way." Still, Paris, Texas is very unlike a classical Hollywood film, though the problematic Hammett, ironically enough, is like one; and the later Wings of Desire is much more a fantasia upon a great city than a classical symphony. (Tokyo-Ga too meanders through a great city rather than being a tight documentary on Yasujiro Ozu.)

Also explored dialectically are the concepts of home and homelessness, omni-present concerns in Wenders's films. Alice in the Cities, Kings of the Road, and Until the End of the World could all have as epigraph a Barbara Stanwyck line from Clash by Night quoted by Wenders in a piece on Fritz Lang: "Home is where you get when you run out of places." The State of Things is perhaps Wenders's most bleak portrayal of homelessness, while Paris, Texas expresses the greatest yearning for home, and Until the End of the World portrays home as a trap (both womblike and filled with scientific gadgetry) of obligations to parents—a place the viewers too are trapped for the second half of a long film. Wings of Desire features an angel wishing he could "come home like Philip Marlowe and feed the cat;" an acrobat who has always felt "alone" and unattached, but now, in love, can feel "loneliness," which means "I am finally whole;" and a conclusion in which the former angel muses, "I found Home . . . instead of forever hovering above"—like Wenders's camera in this film. Obviously the issues of home/homelessness shade into the other prominent Wenders theme of aloneness versus tentative human bonds, explored especially in terms of adult-child friendships, unstable male bondings (see Faraway, So Close for its treatments of both of these), and in Wings, the angelic/mortal possibilities of adult heterosexual love.

Until the End of the World, Wenders's most ambitious project to date, indeed a would-be magnum opus, is quintessentially Wenders in its fascination with home and the road, memory and dream, the mundane and the sublime; yet it disappoints, despite its fine moments. Its early scenes splendidly evoke a future world through decor, a few striking process shots, and multiple uses of video and computer screens; yet the film is flawed in its vague and inconsistent notions of science in the second half, the amateurish handling of the few action scenes, the implausibility of some of the heroine's motives, and above all in the lack of enough meaningful connections between the "dance around the world" of the first half and the Australian home-as-science-lab second half. The Australian landscapes, and the European ones of the very beginning, are hauntingly resonant, like so many in other Wenders films, though the hopscotch around the continents in the first half seems to turn the beauties of Lisbon and rural Japan into mere postcards, an effect seemingly unintended. Perhaps the film succeeds best in its use of various video or computer-generated images to suggest the working—and inseparability—of dreams, memories, and desires. Faraway, So Close, the sequel to Wings of Desire in which Damiel's angel partner Cassiel too becomes a mortal but finds it much harder to adjust to a world of time, suffers artistically from an attempt to include too many plot strands, to work farcical gangsters and daring rescue attempts into an otherwise private, meditative film. Wenders seems at his best when his stories are starkly simple, with complexity coming from the textures of the films' environments.

Wenders once claimed, with some relish of paradox, or perhaps recollection of The Wizard of Oz, that black-and-white was suited to realism, color to fantasy. Hence those stylized tales of murder The Goalie's Anxiety and The American Friend, as well as the science-fiction Until the End of the World, were in color, and the "road trilogy" not, with Kings of the Road immediately declaring itself "a Wim Wenders film in black/white." He further claimed himself to be incapable of making a documentary in color—though he was soon to make more than one. Once again Wings of Desire seems a synthesis of previous concerns, if not a downright reversal, with the angels seeing the spiritual essence of things in black-and-white but humans perceiving the particularities of mortal life in color. Such inconsistency—or rather, willingness to change perspective—may be taken as representative of the exploratory nature of Wenders's film work as a whole.

—Joseph Milicia

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Wenders, Wim

Wim Wenders

Among the directors who emerged during the new wave of German cinema in the 1970s, Wim Wenders (born 1945) has been paradoxically the most complex and, at times, the most commercially successful. His films Paris, Texas (1983) and Wings of Desire (1987) were among the most widely distributed art films of the 1980s.

Wenders, like many other European filmmakers, was fascinated and influenced by Hollywood cinema. His films, at times, have been difficult to follow, with multiple stories that might or might not be resolved, but they often used the forms of classic American film genres. Wenders used well-known American actors in fresh ways in his films, and beginning early in his career he wove rock music into his cinematic language. His fascination with music led to a new phase in his career later in life, as he helped launch a worldwide interest in classic forms of Cuban music with his documentary Buena Vista Social Club (1999).

Raised in Post war Germany

Wenders was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, on August 14, 1945, the day World War II ended in the Pacific. Germany had surrendered several months earlier and lay in ruins. "Growing up in postwar Germany wasn't exactly fun," he was quoted as saying in a New Zealand Dominion Post interview reproduced on the Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. "It was all about rebuilding the country. Very materialistic, and joyless, not that humor was ever an elaborate German quality." Wenders was the son of a doctor at a Catholic hospital. He was given the name Wim (pronounced Veem) Wenders, but a government official clinging to the last remains of German nationalism insisted that Wim was not a German name. So he was, in officialdom only, named Ernst Wilhelm Wenders.

The materialism of German life did not appeal to Wenders, who made his first film at age 12, pointing a movie camera out a window to record the movement of people and cars on the street below. For the rest of his career, his style would be characterized by long, reflective shots of pure background that provided a canvas on which the action of the film developed. Wenders at first wanted to become a watercolor painter, and his films, like watercolors, had muted, gentle color schemes. He made several stabs at a more practical career, dropping out of medical, philosophy and sociology programs at universities in Munich, Freiberg, and Düsseldorf, respectively. In Düsseldorf he met the young Austrian playwright Peter Handle, who would eventually write scripts for several of his films, and he began to think about a filmmaking career.

Wenders moved to Paris around 1966. He applied to art and film schools there and, with no track record or schooling in either field, was turned down by both. Finally he apprenticed himself to an engraver. But Wenders managed to give himself a film education in cinema-crazy Paris; he went to the Henri Langlois Cinémathèque, a well-known private film archive, nearly every night and, according to his own estimate, saw more than 1,000 films. When he returned to Germany in 1967 he was accepted at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen (Film and Television Institute). Before enrolling he completed a three-month internship at a German office of the American United Artists studio. That was enough to convince Wenders that a commercial film career was not what he wanted.

During his student career Wenders made short experimental films such as Silver City (1968), a three-minute montage of shots of a Munich street that recalled the film he had made at age 12. His graduation project was a full-length feature called Summer in the City.

Adopted Road Movie Genre

The titles of that and some other Wenders film were in English, as was the name of his film production company, Road Movies. As a youth, Wenders loved American culture, which, he told the Dominion Post, "offered the great alternatives: comic strips, movies, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, chewing gum, rock 'n' roll. America seemed to offer one joyful adventure after another, and already as a little boy I collected pictures of skyscrapers and big cars and beautiful women with beautiful houses behind them and children that had the greatest toys." But Wenders was ambivalent about the effect of American commercialism on German film, and his film Der amerikanische Freund (The American Friend, 1977) depicted the negative effects of American culture. Wenders lived in New York in the early 1970s and spent five years in Los Angeles, California, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Wenders would adopt the road movie, an American genre filtered through various European influences, including that of German Romanticism, as his favored medium. His breakthrough film in art cinema circles was Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Anxiety of the Goalie at the Penalty Kick, 1971), based on a play by Handke, which followed the often meaningless travels of a loner soccer goalie through Germany and Austria. The WDR (West German Radio) studio, impressed with that debut, signed Wenders to direct a conventional film adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter in 1972, a project Wenders completed but did not enjoy. He was quoted as saying in a Senses of Cinema essay that he would never make another film in which "no car, service station, television, or jukebox" was allowed to appear.

The American landscapes that figured in many Wenders films made an appearance in Alice in den Städten (Alice in the Cities, 1972), which featured the Chuck Berry song "Memphis" at an important juncture in the plot. For Falsche Bewegung (The Wrong Move, 1974), Wenders and Handke re-teamed to transplant a novel by Goethe, Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (The Education of William Meister), into a distinctly alienated modern setting. Im Lauf der Zeit (Kings of the Road, 1975) was a road movie set in Germany but influenced in its look by the work of famed American photographer Walker Evans.

It was Der Amerikanische Freund that brought Wenders to international prominence. A thriller about a shady American art dealer who tricks a German picture framer into becoming an organized crime hit man, the film starred American actor Dennis Hopper, along with Germany's leading male actor, Swiss-born Bruno Ganz. The chemistry between the two on the set was explosive, but after they came to blows several times, the two became friends. The intensity of the relationship showed in the film, which was widely exhibited by American art film houses and university film societies. It attracted the eye of American director Francis Ford Coppola, who invited Wenders to make a film in Hollywood.

Married Ronee Blakely

The resulting film, Hammett, was a film biography of mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. Coppola was dissatisfied with the results of filming, and re-shot large parts of the film himself, so the final version was more Coppola than Wenders. The film gained little public notice, but Wenders used his extended sojourn in the United States to make new friends and gather new material. He married country-rock backup vocalist Ronee Blakely, but the marriage dissolved when he returned to Germany in the early 1980s. A lasting relationship was forged when Wenders met playwright and actor Sam Shepard on a soundstage next to the one where he was shooting Hammett. Shepard wrote the screenplay for Paris, Texas, which was released in 1983 and earned Wenders the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award, for Best Film, at the Cannes Film Festival in France the following year. The film was moderately successful commercially, beyond the usual art film circles.

Paris, Texas (1983), was a drama that featured actor Harry Dean Stanton as an amnesiac who wanders through the American Southwest and the rather futuristic cities of Los Angeles, California, and Houston, Texas. Wenders's treatment of American landscapes was widely praised; in the words of one commentator it seemed almost as though the landscape was a character in the film. The intense, almost surreal landscapes were reminiscent of those in the desert film Zabriskie Point (1971) by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, a filmmaker Wenders admired. The film's evocative score was by slide guitarist Ry Cooder, who would later inaugurate another important phase of Wenders's career.

Wenders would return to the United States several more times, but he said that Paris, Texas marked the end of the American phase of his career. He made the film Tokyoga (1985) in Japan, and then returned to Germany for the haunting Der Himmel über Berlin (The Skies over Berlin or The Heavens over Berlin, 1987), usually known by its English title, Wings of Desire. Peter Handke wrote the screenplay of the film, which put a unique Wenders spin on the sentimental idea of angels watching over the inhabitants of a city. The film starred Bruno Ganz as an angel—with a long black coat and a ponytail in place of wings—who observes the lives of Berliners but wants to experience human feelings and sensations. Anticipating a technique used in several later American films, Wenders shot scenes pertaining to angels in black and white, but used color for the sphere of human existence. Wings of Desire featured American actor Peter Falk, best-known as TV's detective Columbo, playing himself, in a delightfully off-beat treatment of a familiar face. Wenders's fluid camera work, gliding through the streets and alleys of Berlin like the angels depicted in the story, won rapturous praise from critics, and international audiences flocked to the film. Wings of Desire was remade in the United States as City of Angels in 1998.

Wenders's films of the 1990s, including the Wings of Desire sequel In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Far Away, So Close, 1993), were not as well received as his earlier works, even though Wenders continued to attract famous guest stars—Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had a small role in Far Away, So Close, and Mel Gibson appeared in The Million Dollar Hotel, one of two Wenders films made in Los Angeles. Wenders scored a major triumph, however, with Buena Vista Social Club, a 1999 documentary he made about a community of aging Cuban musicians discovered by Ry Cooder. Wenders's film earned an Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature, and, in conjunction with several Cooder-produced albums, touched off a renewal of popularity for Cuban music around the world.

In the early 2000s Wenders continued to explore musical themes with a contribution to Martin Scorese's The Blues, an anthology that compiled segments by various directors who addressed aspects of the blues tradition. His 2005 film Don't Come Knocking reunited him with Sam Shepard, who played a washed-up cowboy film actor who seeks out his family in Montana. Top stars, including Jessica Lange and Eva Marie Saint, continued to jump at the chance to work with Wenders, and his German Romantic perspective on America continued to yield unique results.

Books

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, 4th ed., St. James, 2000.

Kolker, Robert Philip, The Films of Wim Wenders, Cambridge, 1993.

Periodicals

Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, October 31, 2003.

New Statesman, January 2, 1998.

New Yorker, September 29, 2003.

Time, May 9, 1988.

Variety, May 30, 2005.

Online

"Wim Wenders," All Movie Guide, http://www.allmovie.com (February 24, 2006).

"Wim Wenders Biography," Images Journal, http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue01/features/wenders.htm (February 24, 2006).

"Wim Wenders," Senses of Cinema, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/03/wenders.html (February 24, 2006).

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Wenders, Wim

Wim Wenders, 1945–, German filmmaker, b. Düsseldorf. During the late 1960s he attended film school and worked as a film critic in Munich. Wenders first attracted attention with The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1971), a film whose themes of alienation and rootlessness are subsequently echoed in Alice in the Cities (1973), Kings of the Road (1975), and many of his other works. His first truly successful feature was Paris, Texas (1984), a haunting search-for-identity story (with a screenplay by Sam Shepard) set in the American Southwest. Wenders' elegant Wings of Desire (1987), filmed in black-and-white and color, with a screenplay by Peter Handke, tells of a Berlin angel's desire for the vividness of human experience. Wenders achieved international popularity with Buena Vista Social Club (1999), a documentary featuring a group of superb but aging Cuban musicians, and his 3D Pina (2011) immerses viewers in dances by the choreographer Pina Bausch. Other films include The American Friend (1977), Hammett (1982), Until the End of the World (1991), and The End of Violence (1997). His documentary The Salt of the Earth (2014) examines the art of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Wenders also is a still photographer and painter.

See his The Act of Seeing (1997) and Wim Wenders on Film: Essays and Conversations (2001); studies by R. P. Kolker (1993), R. F. Cook and G. Gemunden, ed. (1997), and R. Bromley (2001).

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"Wenders, Wim." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wenders, Wim." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wenders-wim

"Wenders, Wim." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/wenders-wim