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Wings of Desire / Der Himmel über Berlin

Wings of Desire title card

Year - 1987
Studio - Road Movies Filmproducktion Gambh and Argos Films
Stars - Bruno Ganz, Solveg Donmartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Peter Falk
Director - Wim Wenders
Writing Credits - Wim Wenders, Peter Handke
Music - Jürgen Kneiper


Two angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are guardian angels in Berlin, invisible, watching over the activities of humans. They perch high on buildings and statues, and sometimes put a comforting hand on a mortal's shoulder. They observe, make notes, and listen to the thoughts of others.

Damiel feels a restive dissatisfaction with his eternal existence of observing, and yearns to touch, smell, taste and see color (the angels' viewpoint is photographed in black and white, the humans' perspective in color.) He proclaims, "It's great to live by the spirit, to testify day by day, for eternity, only what's spiritual in people's mind. But sometimes I'm fed up with my spiritual existence. Instead of forever hovering above, I'd like to feel a weight grow in me to end the infinity and to tie me to earth. I'd like, at each step, each gust of wind, to be able to say 'now'."

Wings of Desire poster

He encounters the American actor, Peter Falk, playing himself, who senses Damiel's presence and is revealed to be a fallen angel. Damiel falls in love with one of his subjects, a beautiful trapeze artist (Solveg Donmartin) who, as part of her costume, wears angelic wings.

Ultimately he makes the decision to fall (literally) from his angelic state and become human.

The storyline of Wings of Desire is easily summarized, but it is more a film of ideas and introspection, as well as a rich, visual poem.


Wings of Desire was remade in 1997 as an American film, City of Angels.