The film is back in theaters The sky above Berlin (original title Der Himmel über Berlin), the legendary 1987 film directed by Wim Wenders. The film is back in theaters in 4k.
Presented in competition at the 40th Cannes Film Festival, it won the award for best director.
It has now been restored in 4K by the Wim Wenders Foundation starting from the original negative, to bring this metropolitan fable that tells of the German city to its maximum splendor. A city that we find torn in two.
Wenders’ greatness can be glimpsed, among other things, in the brilliant intuition of staging a Berlin populated by angels: the film contemplates creatures above time and space who observe people, ordinary mortals.
There are two angels in particular: Damiel and Cassiel are the two celestial creatures who wander around the city, unseen by humans.
To enjoy all the beauty of this masterpiece of the seventh art on the big screen, let’s discover together 10 things to know, including curiosities, awards and various information that (perhaps) not everyone knows.
Many awards, from Best Director at Cannes to Best Supporting Actor at the EFA
Let’s start with the awards obtained by the film. First of all, the Best Director award won at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. At the French film festival, Wim Wenders’ film was also nominated for the Palme d’Or.
As for the 1988 European Film Awards, the film won in the Best Supporting Actor categories (the award went to Curt Bois) and Best Director.
In 1989 The sky above Berlin it also won Best Foreign Film at the Independent Spirit Awards.
The two protagonist angels
In 1980s Berlin, two angels called Damiel and Cassiel wander. They observe men and listen to their thoughts, while they circulate undisturbed, unseen. Bruno Ganz plays Damiel while Otto Sander plays the part of Cassiel.
The character of Homer
In the film there is an old man named Homer. Just like his namesake, the Greek Homer, this modern poet also dreams of peace. Homer searches for Potsdamer Platz, a square that before the Second World War was one of the most beautiful in Europe. But instead of him he will find an unkempt clearing and the Berlin Wall covered in graffiti.
Playing the character of Homer is Curt Bois, who won the award for Best Supporting Actor at the 1988 European Film Awards.
Peter Falk as himself
The film’s plot also shows an American actor, Peter Falk, coming to Berlin to shoot a film. It will be discovered that in the past he too was an angel, but he renounced his immortality.
The legendary American star, who became immortal in the role of the television character of Columbus, plays the part of himself.
Not just Peter Falk: there’s also Nick Cave who plays himself
In the film there is not only Peter Falk as himself: the musician Nick Cave also appears in a cameo, playing himself. In a very significant scene (the one in which Damiel sees his beloved Marion again, who will finally reciprocate his love for him) the location is actually a Nick Cave concert.
The film’s inspirations, from Rainer Maria Rilke to The Cure
Not just Nick Cave: The Cure have something to do with it too The sky above Berlin.
“The idea arose simultaneously from several sources. First of all from the reading of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies”, explained Wim Wenders (as reported Description of an indescribable film in Giovanni Spagnoletti-Michael Töteberg). “Then some time ago from Paul Klee’s paintings. Even fromAngel of history by Walter Benjamin. Suddenly I also listened to a song by The Cure that talked about ‘fallen angels’. I also reflected on how in this city the worlds of the present and the past coexist and overlap, double images in time and space, which were accompanied by childhood memories, of angels as omnipresent and invisible observers”.
Wenders wandering around Berlin and notices the massive presence of angels
The film in question arrived at a very particular moment in Wim Wenders’ life: after living in the United States for eight years, the German director returned to his native Germany.
He thus decided to dedicate and shoot a film in “his” Berlin (we say “his” even if Wenders was actually born in Düsseldorf).
“Wenders initially wandered around the city looking for inspiration and writing down in his notebook what he saw and what struck him. Then, during his walks, he noticed that there were many depictions of angels. So, little by little, the director began to seriously consider the idea of a film with guardian angels as protagonists”, we read in Excerpts from Interviews with Wenders (1997).
Nobel prize winning dialogues
Director Wim Wenders availed himself of the collaboration of Peter Handke, Nobel Prize winner for literature 2019, to write the dialogues of The sky above Berlin. The film’s dialogues also include poetry Song from Kindsein (Praise of childhood).
The title of the film
Der Himmel über Berlin is the original title of the film, which in Italian means precisely The sky above Berlin.
“I wanted to tell the story of this city. It was still a divided city. Two different peoples lived there, although they spoke the same language. The sky was the only thing that united the city in those times” explained Wim Wenders, as we read in the chapter In defense of places by Wim Wenders in the book The spaces of an image by Frank Martucci (2009, Feltrinelli Editore).
The dedication goes to three filmmakers particularly loved by Wenders
The film is dedicated to those who for Wim Wenders are three “angels” of cinema: the directors Yasujirō Ozu, François Truffaut and Andrej Tarkovsky.
You can watch the trailer of the film The sky above Berlin in the video you find above, at the head of this article, and also in the clip below.