Reflections on Wim Wenders and New German Cinema

Some small thoughts on the early works of one of cinema’s most celebrated auteurs and the movement surrounding his films.

Ezra James

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Photo by Alfred Weidinger | Flickr

I’ve been slowly getting acquainted with the works of Wim Wenders over the past few weeks. Needless to say, they have left me in a state of contemplative bliss. These god-damned Germans with all their introspective nonsense, they always have something to say. Somehow they managed to find the perfect way to capture the mundane and abstract. And it isn’t some quaint notion too abstract to even make sense like those weird French blokes do.

The Germans are far more simple yet striking with their approach on a subject. The 70s was a great period for them; they found an identity after years of restrictions and… that interesting “little” episode they had in the 30s and 40s. It’s a rough subject to talk about so it’s best to not mention the war. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it. But it’s necessary to remark how at the very least the war and its aftermath was on everybody’s mind during this period, often as a source for musings and observations.

Funny enough, their films ironically coincide with the release of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, a work depicting the end of WWII whilst attempting to make sense of what the conflict meant on a theoretical, metaphorical, spiritual, metaphysical, and quantum level, precisely the very thing filmmakers like Wenders were trying to do (albeit on a much smaller scale, but this is no knock on them, Pynchon is simply on another realm of existence). In summation, it was a period of many frustrations, crises of identity, status, and position. On top of the post-war calamity, the entire world was trying to make sense on just what the fuck happened in the 60s, unsure if it meant anything good.

The confusion permeated throughout the culture, and it is no coincidence this period is characterized for producing some of the best pieces of art not just in Germany but from all over the globe. There’s an intrinsic relationship between tough times and great art, almost as a necessity. Creativity was clicking on all cylinders, moving at incremental speeds as it swerves through obstacles of political force and cultural taboos with…

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Ezra James

Absurd journalist and essayist from the outskirts of Shambhala.