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Wim Wenders

August 12, 1996

One of the most well known directors of the post-WWII German New Wave cinema, Wenders was born on August 14, 1945 in Dusseldorf, Germany. He has been fascinated with American culture since he was a child, growing up when the U.S. culture provided a diversion for Germans to forget their troubled past. Wenders was known to be a shy teenager, who at one time thought about joining the priesthood, but who developed an interest in the films and music of America. Between 1967 and 1970, he made several student films at the Munich film school. His first feature, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1971), attracted much attention from critics around the world.

His next feature, The Scarlet Letter (1973), has been considered Wenders least entertaining work. He bounced back with his "road movie" trilogy which was comprised of Alice in the Cities (1974), Wrong Move (1975) and Kings of the Road (1976). Kings is considered the best of the trilogy. The American Friend (1977) won international attention. This film got Francis Ford Coppola interested in having Wenders direct the film Hammett (1983). However, because of personal differences between Wenders and Coppola, the film stayed in production limbo for five years. During that time, Wenders made a semi-autobiographical tale, The Shape of Things (1982), which was supposed to be based on his experiences making Hammett. The movie shows the difference between American and German filmaking.

After this long personal debacle, his poetic spirit kicked into gear again, with the acclaimed modern western Paris, Texas (1984) and his poetic triumph Wings of Desire (1988). Wings was a return for Wenders to German filmaking, after nearly a decade in self-imposed exile. What Wenders has done in the 70's and 80's, has failed to help him recieve an audience in the 90's. The rambling, overlong sci-fi story, Until the End of the World (1991) and the Wings sequel Faraway, So Close! (1993) have recieved lukewarm receptions by critics and public alike. However, I have faith in Wenders. His views of popular American culture, and the affect it has had on Germany, has almost always provided fantastic cinema works. Many of them are full of his love for both cinema and the people who make it. If you haven't discovered this director yet, you don't know what you a re missing!

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