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This page is to obtain ONLINE access to the Sands Films Cinema Club presentation of Der Himmel über Berlin on Tuesday 5th April

To attend in person, please CLICK HERE

Der Himmel über Berlin 

Wim Wenders (1987)

A shimmering, ecstatic, poignant embrace of the joys and sorrows of being human, Der Himmel über Berlin provides an unusual perspective on the matter. Above postwar, divided Berlin, Damiel and Cassiel, two angels from the beginning of time, hover and invisibly descend, floating about and through buildings and people, penetrating people’s thoughts, including their deepest worries, at one point laying a gentle hand on the shoulder of a young man who is contemplating suicide—and who doescommit suicide. Each in its sphere, human or angel, is limited, but angels at least do not die.

     But one day Damiel (Bruno Ganz, wonderful) espies a beauteous circus acrobat and becomes a dissatisfied angel. Now he wants to be human, to experience human love. Becoming mortal would be worth it. Born to the human round, we better appreciate the gift of life and death through Damiel’s fresh eyes and senses. And the world is more magical and spiritual than we imagined, because Damiel isn’t the only former angel among us. Another one, for instance, is Peter Falk playing himself—and giving his finest performance.

     “I wonder if she is Jewish,” Falk muses as he sketches an elderly woman. Falk is himself Jewish. For all we know, the Holocaust survivor whose thoughts the angels hear might also once have been an angel. Great suffering, as well as great happiness, comes with the human lot.

     The universe the angels perceive is in austere, timeless, blue-tinted monochrome, suggesting silent cinema; the world that humans see, in full color, is sensual and vibrant. Henri Alëkan (Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast) contributes astonishing cinematography.

     Wim Wenders and Claire Denis beautifully directed from one of cinema’s finest scripts, by Wenders and Peter Handkë—two former seminarians who know something about angels who’ve risen to earth. 

Dennis Grunes