Der Himmel Uber Berlin, VT

Episode Seven: Der Himmel Uber Berlin, VT
In which Art imitates Falk.

1 comment:

  1. Wim Wenders' 'Wings of Desire' (1987). I saw this film with a group of Goddard college peers at The Savoy Theater in Montpelier, Vermont. I believe Mark Doty had organized the trip. It really affected me.

    There is so much going on in this film. Even its over-indulgences are luxurious. I was so happy to be able to visit the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin when I was in Germany last year. The building is no longer openly accessible to the public, and my girlfriend and I had to request a guest pass, which was regarded a bit skeptically as it is a German language library, and we were clearly the typical mono-linguistic U.S.-ers. There is a Gutenberg Bible, in a display, tucked in a dark corner near a fire stairwell. Not prominent, but to me, even now, the thought of seeing it wells me up: the beginning of mass-produced literacy. Earth shattering.

    The library itself is breathtaking, and we did see several models of the solar system in a display case. No telling whether the one contemplated by Homer in the film, set on that large table, was one of the ones I similarly contemplated. But, still, it was nourishing to simply be there.

    In the film, Peter Falk plays himself, a version of himself, and at the time, I was a young 20 (?) years old, this was a revelation. He is continually recognized as Columbo on the street throughout the film, but, as we are privy to his stream of consciousness, we know him to be someone apart from his character. It's not like I didn't know he was an actor apart from his work, but watching other people express curiosity in what he, as a celebrity, does, and knowing that he, as a person, goes about his work with some degree of humility and doubt ... this was a new perspective for me.

    I guess I'd always just thought of him as a character actor, and one who had hit it out of the park with just one series, that to see him trying to sketch, trying to perfect another form of art, and be absently hoping that someday he might make one good thing out of it - this was an idea that resonated with me. His words, his internal monologue, "someday you'll make a good drawing - I hope, I hope, I hope," is a mantra that is with me nearly every day of my life.

    And, of course, this duality between the idea of the thing and the actual thing itself is key to the film. So, it works deep down in that way, which is brilliant.

    There's a brief scene where Falk tries on a series of hats for the character he is playing in the film inside the film. Again, going from ethereal to specific. This is what the angel wanted to do: step down to this physical world, where worrying about how your hat makes you appear is as much a part of the joy as taking a deep breath, as enjoying warming your hands on a cold day, as smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee. Not sure Squidman is the right venue to be expressing that sentiment - he seems to be a little cynical about it.

    In this world, you get to choose a role to play, and dress yourself up to meet that role. And someday maybe you'll make a good drawing. I hope. I hope. I hope.

    Guy holds a sketch pad and stupidly expensive drawing pencil.



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