813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
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813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#1 Post by swo17 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:19 pm

Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

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In the 1970s, Wim Wenders was among the first true international breakthrough artists of the revolutionary New German Cinema, a filmmaker whose fascination with the physical landscapes and emotional contours of the open road proved to be universal. In the middle of that decade, Wenders embarked on a three-film journey that took him from the wide roads of Germany to the endless highways of the United States and back again. Starring Rüdiger Vogler as the director's alter ego, Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move, and Kings of the Road are dramas of emotional transformation that follow their characters' searches for themselves, all rendered with uncommon soulfulness and visual poetry.

Alice in the Cities

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The first of the road films that would come to define the career of Wim Wenders, the magnificent Alice in the Cities is an emotionally generous and luminously shot journey. A German journalist (Rüdiger Vogler) is driving across the United States to research an article; it's a disappointing trip, in which he is unable to truly connect with what he sees. Things change, however, when he is forced to take a young girl named Alice (Yella Rottländer) with him on his return trip to Germany, after her mother (Lisa Kreuzer)—whom he has just met—leaves the child in his care. Though they initially find themselves at odds, the pair begin to form an unlikely friendship.

Wrong Move

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Wim Wenders updates a late-eighteenth-century novel by Goethe with depth and style, transposing it to 1970s West Germany and giving us the story of an aimless writer (Rüdiger Vogler) who leaves his hometown to find himself and befriends a group of other travelers. Seeking inspiration to help him escape his creative funk, he instead discovers the limits of attempts to refashion one's identity. One of the director's least seen but earthiest and most devastating soul searches, Wrong Move features standout supporting performances from New German Cinema regulars Hanna Schygulla and Peter Kern and, in her first film appearance, Nastassja Kinski.

Kings of the Road

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A roving film projector repairman (Rüdiger Vogler) saves the life of a depressed psychologist (Hanns Zischler) who has driven his Volkswagen into a river, and they end up on the road together, traveling from one rural German movie theater to another. Along the way, the two men, each running from his past, bond over their shared loneliness. Kings of the Road, captured in gorgeous com-positions by cinematographer Robby Müller and dedicated to Fritz Lang, is a love letter to the cinema, a moving and funny tale of male friendship, and a portrait of a country still haunted by war.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored 4K digital transfers of all three films, commissioned by the Wim Wenders Foundation and supervised by director Wim Wenders
• Audio commentaries for all three films, featuring Wenders and actors Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer on Alice in the Cities, and featuring Wenders on Wrong Move and Kings of the Road
• New interview with Wenders, directed and conducted by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
• New interviews with Vogler, Kreuzer, Rottländer, and actors Hanna Schygulla and Hanns Zischler
• Outtakes and Super 8 home movies
Restoring Time, a 2015 short about the restoration work done by the Wim Wenders Foundation
Same Player Shoots Again (1967) and Silver City Revisited (1968), two newly restored early short films by Wenders
• New English subtitle translations
• PLUS: A book featuring essays on the films by filmmaker Allison Anders, author James Robison, and critic Nick Roddick

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hearthesilence
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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#2 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:41 pm

We'll have to wait and see re: the encoding, but the restorations themselves were amazing. I went to see them at MoMA about a year ago and posted detailed notes in another thread (the Wenders' thread?) - all the restoration info was displayed in cards before the actual feature. Would love to see The State of Things next.

oh yeah
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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#3 Post by oh yeah » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:31 pm

Criterion is on a roll -- I've been wanting to see these films, along with The American Friend, for years, so this is fantastic.

kristophers
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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#4 Post by kristophers » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:08 pm

oh yeah wrote:Criterion is on a roll -- I've been wanting to see these films, along with The American Friend, for years, so this is fantastic.
I'm pleased they are coming out so soon after the retrospective tour. I thought maybe we'd have to wait a while.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#5 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:52 am


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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#6 Post by FrauBlucher » Tue May 17, 2016 6:14 am


worriedfire
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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#7 Post by worriedfire » Thu May 19, 2016 6:25 am

I'm going (sort of) region free tomorrow, after years of debating whether or not to. The McCabe & Mrs. Miller was what finally made me decide it's worth it, but I'll make sure to pick this up as soon as it's made available over here. Been meaning to get to these films for the longest time. A bit disappointing that two of the three commentary tracks are in German, though. I doubt I'll get a whole lot out of them with my subpar primary school German, though I'm always happy when I see a Fassbinder film and someone mentions a "Sonderangebot" (which happens suprisingly often). It's more-or-less the only thing I remember.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#8 Post by CSM126 » Thu May 19, 2016 7:03 am

worriedfire wrote: A bit disappointing that two of the three commentary tracks are in German, though. I doubt I'll get a whole lot out of them with my subpar primary school German
…turn the subtitles on?

worriedfire
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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#9 Post by worriedfire » Thu May 19, 2016 9:14 am

CSM126 wrote:
worriedfire wrote: A bit disappointing that two of the three commentary tracks are in German, though. I doubt I'll get a whole lot out of them with my subpar primary school German
…turn the subtitles on?
I (wrongly) assumed they weren't subtitled since Criterion's website didn't specify that they were. My bad. With Wenders being fluent in English I would, of course, have preffered it to be in English, but subtitles are definitely better than nothing.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#10 Post by cdnchris » Thu May 19, 2016 9:38 am

Yes, the two German language commentaries have subtitles. Other than their original 400 Blows DVD all of their non-English commentaries have subtitles.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#11 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:52 am


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med
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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#12 Post by med » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:26 pm

I have been working through the commentaries on this set over the last few days; I'm wondering why Criterion bothered to license them (and went to the added trouble of commissioning subtitles for two of them). Alice in the Cities is largely Wenders and the actors making small talk. ("Did I come up with that line or did you?" "I don't recall. I think you did.") The solo tracks on the other films fare slightly better, but too often fall into narrating what's happening on screen or simply repeating himself. The latter is especially bad in Kings of the Road, given that film's length.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#13 Post by cdnchris » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:08 pm

I finally got through the Kings of the Road track a few days ago and have to agree. I didn't get much out of them that I didn't already in the briefer interviews spread out over the discs. The Alice one was particularly frustrating. And this may be a dickish thing to say, the subtitles on the two made them harder to get through. I liked the one for American Friend so I was surprised I found the Alice one so plodding, though maybe it was because it was technically two filmmakers talking in that one and they had more interesting things to say about filmmaking, even if Hopper didn't ring in too much. You're right that this track felt more like general chit chat and it did get a bit tiring.

Kings of the Road is just a long movie and I doubt anyone (even Tony Rayns, who kicked ass on the Brighter Summer Day commentary) could have kept it all that engaging, so I have to cut Wenders some slack there.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#14 Post by Drucker » Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:06 am

Just finished up this set with Kings Of The Road yesterday and the films finally started to click with me. Initially, I had thought Alice was a nice little film, but Wrong Move didn't click with me at all, and I would even call it frustrating. But it seems with Kings I finally got what Wenders was trying to achieve with these films, and I think an eventual re-watch of all three films will make more sense.

I don't know if I had the wrong expectations going into this film, but these films certainly up-end the idea of a "road trip" movie in much the same way Two-Lane Blacktop does. I think what frustrated me about Wrong Move is I went into it still expecting a traditional plot, especially given the framing of a character that was literally being forced out of his comfort zone. He becomes frustrated with his inability to make sense and find meaning within the lives of the people he encounters.

Kings wisely dismisses the frame, and just drops in our lap two wanderers, who begin by wandering and end-up still wandering. It does an incredible job of constantly confronting the past and then realizing that nothing can come to terms with Germany's recent history. Obviously the old man in Wrong Move is a clearer vehicle against which one can confront the past, but Kings, by not characterizing anything as explicitly-related to the Nazi-past makes everything about the Nazi past. Both films feature an old man that cannot admit what the younger generation wishes it would, but in Kings we are constantly surrounded and entrenched in that past. The machinery especially reminds us that the characters cannot escape the recent past: the newspapers and movie theaters that one assumes were used to spread the Nazi message far and wide. Even the early shot of the Volkswagen factory gives one chills for the same reason.

Again, I'll need to revisit all three films, especially after seeing Kings of the Road last night, to really digest the meaning within. The transfers are all sublime and the soundtrack in Kings was one of my favorites I have ever heard.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#15 Post by knives » Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:25 pm

The opening with its black and white nostalgia of small towns as they are dying and cinema obsession made me fearful that Kings of the Road would merely be a German The Last Picture Show, but fortunately Wenders instead does something entirely unique to himself with the cinema being less born out of cinephilia so much as it being the perfect window dressing for isolation in the modern age (though I guess now he'd be a computer repairman). It might not be an optimistic film as such (certainly not on the level of Wings of Desire), but it is easily the funniest and most relaxed I have seen Wenders. The way he quietly allows the pair to just hang out and do stuff which is regularly absurd frees the film entirely from any sort of expectation allowing it to be very silly and juvenile and yet not obnoxious as such (how many films with this much on screen pooping can you say that for). Even the tragedy of the film has this non-plussed dry humour to it that takes away the tragedy and makes it just an acceptable part of everyday life. That part seems really separate from the Wenders I know especially after he became a fanatic. This is not to say any of his films are judgmental, but that many of them with this increasing over time beg for a healing. This film has that as well given the loneliness of the leads, but here the damage is a part of the healing process and a perfectly acceptable action. Why not drown yourself if it gives you some amusement. I guess I mean is that though there is a want to be healed from some unspoken damage there isn't any pain from the damage. The characters just discover that the damage is perfectly livable and merely needs to be adjust to rather than healed. The real shocker coming from the lack of a push by Wenders as mysterious god toward that realization. It makes this such a unique film in his hands that it seems like his best as a result even as that quality of best is solely dependent on his other films being worth examination at a deep level.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#16 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:57 am

Kings of the Road may well be the my favorite depiction of the existential, or rather humanistic, experiences of the common man. This film evokes such an intense feeling of identification with these characters, who we don't really get the opportunity to truly 'know' in a "traditional" sense, yet I can't think of a character that I feel more connected to in cinema than these two. For me this film is about the duality, or perhaps continuum, of human experience in regard to the selfish, neurotic, individual and the spiritual, participatory part that surrenders the neuroses to allow oneself to experience interaction with the world, most notably other people, objects, and nature. Each character has many experiences throughout the film of soaking up a moment in time, and appreciating that moment (i.e. the view of a landscape from a tower, small-talk conversations with strangers, a spontaneous silly silhouette shtick). But these moments, and their corresponding feelings, don't remain static and each character fluctuates from these moments of participation to becoming harnessed by their own personal fears, insecurities, resentments, dissatisfaction and core beliefs. This film perfectly and carefully demonstrates the human condition, allowing the audience to relate to these moments of freedom from one's own isolating thoughts as well as validating that the 'selfish' drives to be alone and focus on the importance of our own problems are natural and not simply 'negative,' for ultimately we are all human and emotions are not static. Wenders seems to be showing us that there is hope in not so much resolving these personal internal conflicts but in achieving a sense of serenity through participating in life by appreciating the moments with other people, places and things that may seem small but are actually more significant than they appear.

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#17 Post by Boosmahn » Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:37 pm

I've been going through this set recently but have stopped short of Kings of the Road, probably because of my dislike for Wrong Move; ironically, this was the film I was most looking forward to in the set. Alice in the Cities was a mixed bag, but once Philip and Alice got on the road it was really enjoyable (the photo booth scene is a treasure).

Maybe Wrong Move would impact me more if I was German? The dialogue, mostly from the mansion's owner, was a bit overbearing... and this is coming from someone who likes dialogue-driven movies. The idea of somebody going on this vast trip only to discover essentially nothing (note the blood-red "WRONG MOVE" at the end) was very appealing but it just fell flat. I want to like it, though. Any fans of the film who can convince me otherwise?

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Re: 813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

#18 Post by knives » Thu Aug 02, 2018 11:08 pm

I find looking at the characters to be the wrong approach and instead the film works as a sort of mood piece where the images are made to give a specific reaction. It is almost like Eisenstein for the heart.

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