Faraway, So Close!

Wim Wenders (Germany, 1993, 140 min.)

In this follow-up to Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders takes a look at post-Cold War Berlin, to the sounds of U2, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, and Johnny Cash. The angel Damiel (Bruno Ganz) has settled into life as a mortal, and in this film, his friend Damiel (Otto Sander) joins him on earth. Mikhail Gorbachev, Willem Dafoe, and Peter Falk all join in on the fun, while Cassiel's fall is complicated by gangsters, smut-peddlers, and ghosts of the past.

As he's just beginning to adjust to life on earth, Cassiel goes into a subway station where he's promptly swindled by dark angel Emit Flesti (Willem Dafoe). When he returns a few scenes later to get a photo for his passport, he enters the photobooth and, continuing the style that was begun in Wings of Desire, the film becomes black and white as we see the angel Raphaela (Nastassja Kinski) join Cassiel in the booth. He can't see her, and the photos produced don't reveal her presence, but she is there nonetheless.

Thanks to Karin for the tip.

Contributed by Brian

Cassiel heads past the photobooth in his first visit to the subway station. A woman sits in the booth, waiting to a take a photo.
As he passes the booth, the flash goes off.
Back a little later on, Cassiel smooths his hair in the mirror before entering the Fotofix booth.
Into the booth he goes.
And the curtain closes.
Cassiel smiles for the camera.
As he leans down to put coins in the slot, we see the dissolve to black and white as Raphaela appears.
Raphaela sits on Cassiel's lap.
Cassiel makes his good posture pose.
The first flash goes off and Cassiel and Raphaela wince.
Cassiel rubs his eyes to recover.
Another pose.
The flash goes off again, washing out nearly the entire image.
Cassiel gets out the comb this time, looking for that perfect pose.
The flash goes off again, as Cassiel combs his hair.
Cassiel says to Raphaela, "Without a picture of yourself, you're nobody here, Raphaela. Only with a picture do you become somebody."
I'm not sure what this face is meant to express.
After having printed a few business cards for himself at the nearby machine (name: "Karl Engel"), Cassiel buys a bouquet of roses, but opts not to have them wrapped, unaware as he is of the sharp thorns. He waits for the photos.
He pulls the photos out and looks pleased.
And then not so pleased.
The second two photos, neither particularly good.
And the first two, a little better, but now soaked with blood from his fingers, scratched by the thorns.