Wenders on "the loud and the lurid"

Thanks so much to GreenCine Daily for posting this link to Naked Punch:

Wim Wenders:

The loud and lurid are terribly overrated, and just because everybody seems to have accepted that they rule, some of us grudgingly – we shouldn’t exclude the transcendental, the silent or the good as being part of our contemporary existence. Wings of Desire was making that point, and not, I think, by dwelling on the “art” aspects. And the way people all over the world embraced that alternative way of “purification” sort of proved my point, didn’t it? That doesn’t mean I can’t dig the vulgar. Fassbinder’s films as well as, let’s say, Almodóvar’s today have marvelously explored that territory, without glorifying it like for instance Lynch or Tarantino. With these guys I sometimes feel they try to prove their point so much that it becomes redundant. Not that I don’t count them as two of the most brilliant stylists and innovators of our times. (I just dread their imitators…) But to come back to your question…

And here’s my favorite part…

There are films MADE to exist as box office results first, or as reviews first, or as expression of the author first. My films are meant to come to life in people’s heads. They are incomplete before, actually they are meant to be incomplete. I see them like open systems that need to be pulled together by somebody. That somebody is each and every spectator. In a way I think of films the same way I looked at stories in books, when I was little. I realized very early on that the story was not in the written words, but in the space between the lines. That’s where the real reading took place: In my imagination, and that happened in all the white between the letters and the lines. And when I started to see films, I approached them the same way. In fact those films ALLOWED me to perceive them like that, they were asking me to dream myself into them. The classic American cinema has that same specific quality, and this is also the great tradition of European Cinema. I did not invent that “method”. It is an endangered process, though, these days. More and more films come as “wall to wall” entertainment. What you see (and hear!) is what you get. No more space between the frames, so to speak. No chance to sneak in with your imagination, to dream on and to project your innermost hopes or fears or desires into what you see and thereby pushing it further. You come out of the theatre and feel strangely empty. For two hours you were prevented from participating. You were obliged to “witness” instead. And that is the opposite to what you called my “method” which is in the true sense of the word “interactive”.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Gary Scott

    I have similar thoughts to Luke. Much like the Star Trek films, the Harry Potter odd numbered books are the best. “Prisoner of Azkaban” is my favorite, closely followed by “The Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Goblet of Fire”. Rowlings verbosity do get in the way at times. I have appreciated her character development over time which has been steady and consistant with the age group.

    “Goblet of Fire” has many exciting elements and a great deal of character development, so it will be interesting to see how the film handles this.

    “Half Blood Prince” was a letdown regarding the antihero’s identity, but I won’t spoil it for you. It was, by far, the weakest story in the series. Seemed a bit of a rabbit trail to me. The series so hinges on the Dark Lord’s direct confrontation with Harry, that this one left me hungry even after eating a full meal. Rowling still has a knack for the clever twist, though.

    All in all, Harry is dealing with becoming a man without real guidance or mentoring and that is something men in our culture can relate to. How easy it is to look strong and feel weak. Or have responsibility thrust upon us and only want to be nurtured and invisible. Harry is a bit of a superhero without a cape, lacking the maturity to make responsible decisions that the more mainstream superheroes do when the tough get going.

  • Trent

    Oh. Just a point of clarification: PS is Philosopher’s Stone. I realize it was released in the States as Sorcerer’s Stone.

  • Trent


    I think it’s the best.

    Followed by HBP, followed by POA, followed by COS, followed by PS followed by OOTP.

    As far as movies go, none of them have really captured what the books are about, to me.

    I’m thinking that there is a cunning plot afoot to tie the release of the last book in with the release of the last movie. Wouldn’t that be a grand exercise in marketing.

    Actually, I don’t think that, but I’d love to see it. It would be an interesting experiment. Would the fact that the two came out at the same time hurt sales of the book at all?

  • lbrodine

    “Goblet of Fire” is #2 on my list in the Potter Series. “Prisoner of Azkaban”, the previous film, was my favorite book (Rowling actually builds tension without being terribly verbose as her following works have been)

    I’m looking forward to the introduction to the other Wizarding schools. The competitions should also be exciting; hopefully will capture the excitement and anticipation when we’re introduced to Quidditch in the first film.

    It will also be interesting to see how Mike Newell treats the Potter franchise (I only know him from directing romantic comedies). I loved the new approach in the 3rd film, but missed the little details that the first 2 films caught.

  • Anonymous

    The Goblet of Fire is the only Potter book I’ve read; I enjoyed the story, but not the writing. Don’t remember much else, it was a few years ago.

    You ever get around to writing that review of Downfall?

  • Adam Walter

    Very interesting comments. While I try to never miss a Wenders film, I do think this striving after the “incomplete” makes a few of his films forgetable, feeling as though they lack substance and significance. (And this is different from the incomplete, spacious feel in, say, Picnic at Hanging Rock or Wild Strawberries.) I wonder what films of “classic American cinema” he would compare to his own, in terms of this method.

    Interesting class, too, that he places Tarantino and Lynch in. In Tarantion, I believe there is “purification”–at least for some characters (Jackie Brown, Max Cherry, & Jules). As for Lynch, he always tries to combine the twisted and the transcendent–though the balance always shifts to one side in the end. Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive each are a sort of cautionary tale, a “descent into hell.” But take a film like The Straight Story and you see Lynch’s transcendent/redemptive side coming through–to say nothing of Wild at Heart, in which Lynch added a “happy ending” resolution to Barry Gifford’s original story.