Friday, May 10, 2013

Alice in den Städten

1974, West Germany, directed by Wim Wenders (aka Alice in the Cities)

Thematic similarities abound, unsurprisingly, with the later entries in Wenders' road movie trilogy, but especially with Im Lauf der Zeit. It's not hard to imagine that Rüdiger Vogler is playing literally the same character, notwithstanding the change in name, as though this film's Philip ended a chapter of his meanderings in Bavaria before wandering on as Bruno a couple of years later. The same geniality and willingness to go, for the most part, with the hand dealt are essential to both characters; also present here is the striking warmth of Wenders' take on the world notwithstanding the ennui at the heart of both films.

Like so many films, one of the major themes here is the creation of one's own family -- often unlikely in composition, and yet somehow seen as more authentic than one's inherited family simply because there's a degree of intention rather than accident. Where the American scenes are about the obliteration of anything authentic under a blizzard of soul-destroying advertising and consumerism, the German sections are suffused with a sense of loss of the past, the paving over of places of youth in the interests of progress -- with perhaps small remaining window to change direction before the American way wins out, though by the time of Im Lauf der Zeit Wenders suggests that the American way may have had its subconscious victory already.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States