10 Essential Wim Wenders Films You Need To Watch

5. Alice In The Cities (1974)

Alice in the Cities

Loosely based on Peter Handke’s novel Long Farewell, this film is the first film of a trilogy in which Wenders faces his essential philosophical questions. Alongside Kings of the Road and False Movement, these three road movies address issues such as identity, emptiness, and purpose.

Here, a failed novelist has to travel with the daughter of a woman he spent the night with, and take her to Amsterdam, where she is supposed to meet them. The little girl and the grown man serve as two poles, one representing reality and fantasy.

This is Wenders first “Americanized” picture; they travel through post war Europe, where a new generation tries to find its own identity, as does the writer, having to reconcile with the American influence that is bestowed upon them.


4. Lisbon Story (1994)

Lisbon Story (1994)

Wenders travels through cities, trying to find out their true and unique essence. Twenty-two years after The State of Things, he goes back to Portugal, this time via a German sound engineer, summoned there by a mysterious director friend who is supposed to be shooting a film. The friend never shows up, but the engineer finds some cans of silent footage.

He travels around the city searching the right soundtrack for the film. He discovers the soul of Lisbon, it’s people, and, most importantly, the heart of the city. He falls in love with Teresa, the singer of the group Madredeus, which provides a beautiful soundtrack for the film. Again Portugal, again a reflection on the meaning of cinema.


3. The State Of Things (1982)

The State Of Things (1982)

Wenders made Hammett for Francis Ford Coppola’s failed American Zoetrope studios in ’82, which was a headache for both director and producer, and ended up being a terrible experience for the German filmmaker. A couple of months after the wrap-up, Wenders found himself visiting the set of Le Territorie, a film by Raul Ruiz, being shot in the Portuguese town of Sintra, where he found a very relaxed crew, working amidst economic difficulties.

No money, but no hurries, contrary to what he experienced shooting in America. Somehow, he convinced Ruiz’s crew to stick around for another film and they made The State of Things, about a film crew stranded in Portugal without any negatives to continue shooting. The film is a study about the creative personality, and the crisis of the cinema d´auteur. The cast includes Roger Corman and Samuel Fuller.


2. Paris, Texas (1984)

Paris, Texas (1984)

A man appears in the middle of the desert. He’s catatonic, on a “childlike” state. He is searching for a woman, his woman. A story stems from scratch. Texas is a miniature version of America. The man recreates himself from square one; one thing is missing to complete him: to find this woman. He founds shelter in the desert; she founds it in a strip club. Both alienated from society, both faraway from any contact with reality.

Life and planet earth, started from a big bang, that made all existing things to expand from everything else. As sometimes people do. These people found their way back, to another explosion at the meeting point.

A German director, with “European eyes” discovers a landscape belonging to Sam Shepherd’s lonely subjects. Ry Cooder’s slide guitar shows us the way into a universe where the desert is only as big as the distance between two people. And there, a man appears.


1. Wings Of Desire (1987)

Wings Of Desire (1987)

Wenders was looking for an excuse to wander freely through the streets of Berlin; what in his mind started as two burglars, became two angels, looking for the meaning of being human. The road trip is across human existence; through inner monologues we discover the common soul of a city divided by a wall and a society that rebuilds itself and its surroundings. While the old storyteller walks the city in search of the places now forever lost, the new generation attends American rock concerts.

A decadent circus, an American actor rediscovering the city. Henri Alekan dream-like photography and Peter Handke’s poetic script, shape the soul of a film “Dedicated to all the former angels, but especially to Yasujiro, François, and Andrej.” This is a reference to fellow filmmakers Yasujirō Ozu, François Truffaut, and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Author Bio: Carlos Audiffred lives in Mexico City, and currently writes and produces for television and film. Follow him on twitter @carlosaudifresh or Facebook.com/audiffred.