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FARAWAY, SO CLOSE!(IN WEITER FERNE, SO NAH!) (director/writer: Wim Wenders; screenwriters: Richard Reitinger/ Ulrich Zieger; cinematographer: Jürgen Jürges; editor: Peter Przygodda; music: Laurent Petitgand; cast: Otto Sander (Cassiel), Willem Dafoe (Emit Flesti), Nastassja Kinski (Raphaela), Horst Buccholz (Tony Baker), Peter Falk (Himself), Solveig Dommartin (Marion), Bruno Ganz (Damiel), Lou Reed (Himself), Aline Krajewski (Raissa), Rudiger Vogler (Phillip Winter), Heinz Ruhmann (Konrad), Camilla Pontakry (Doria); Runtime: 146; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Wim Wenders; Sony Video; 1993-Germany-in German, French and English with English subtitles)

“Disappointing sequel to hissuccessful fantasy film Wings of Desire.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Wim Wenders (“Alice in the Cities”/”Until the End of the World“/”Pina”)directs this disappointing sequel to hissuccessful fantasy film Wings of Desire (1987). The sequel lacked harmony and though intriguing at times was too messy to be recommended.Wenders co-writes it with Richard Reitinger and Ulrich Zieger. The ambitious meandering and incoherent metaphysical film is all over the map as it awkwardly reflects on such topics as a unified Germany, the pleasures and hardships of being human, and how evil undermines the world’s harmony.

It begins soon after the angel Damiel (Bruno Ganz) becomes mortal and operates a pizza parlor while happily married to the French trapeze artist, love of his life, Marion (Solveig Dommartin), and helps raise her young daughter Raissa (Aline Krajewsk). The angel Cassiel (Otto Sander), Damiel’s old buddy, hovers in Berlin, hanging out at the Angel of Victory with his new confidante Raphaela (Nastassja Kinski), eavesdropping on passers-by’s thinking and their conversations, observing how humans act and rings in the ear of Damiel when he wants him to know he’s around. Cassiel saves the life of a young girl falling from a balcony by catching her and thereby becomes mortal for breaking the celestial rule of not getting involved in worldly affairs. In his fall as a human, Cassiel has a tough time adjusting to how out of touch with each other humans are and is unable to connect with others which leads to a lonely life and the obtaining of a new identity as Karl Engel. Dark mortal philosophizing Emit Flesti (Willem Dafoe), whose name backwards means Time Itself, takes advantage of the vulnerable alien and leads him down a crooked path by getting him to be a drunk and not think straight. While the German-American shady tycoon Tony Baker (Horst Buchholz) cuts the homeless Cassiel in on a business deal and he becomes wealthy, but revolts against his boss’s unethical armament business activities with terrorists.

The over-long film is heavy going even though it’s such a light-weight romp. It has too many tedious moments that are broken up by diverting cameos from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev waxing poetic on achieving harmony through peaceful means, singer Lou Reed singing and Peter Falk as an American artist questioning his integrity as an artist. There are in-jokes, a mystery caper and other escapades to help pass the 2 1/2 hours without the viewer completely tuning out of this misfire, as the sincere film awkwardly searches for relevance to justify its smug self-important stance.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”