Wim Wenders

Not so many films exist about creative people, and when such film appears the creative person is represented only as a creator in a narrow area of human experience and idealized so exaggeratedly that it could be better not to see at all this peacock-made-like creature. Wender’s “Alice…”, on the other hand, is about a creative person who is more human than any Hollywood’s “real guy”.

“Alice in the Cities” is about disinterested togetherness between a German journalist (with a heart of a poet) in the middle of a creative block and a pre-adolescent girl who unexpectedly found herself in his care. It is also about a unique psychological atmosphere which is created by these two protagonists and which becomes the very style of the film – relaxed, tender, warm, more than just life. Thirdly, the film is about creative process when the object of creative effort is life itself. And, finally, it is about the geography of two cultures, American pre-globalist (and impulsively entrepreneurial) and European post-fascist (knowingly existential).

The girl is without any of the usual appealing, without any need for success with other characters (inside the film) or the audience. As a screen presence she is rather shocking for most American viewers by her independence from how she is perceived by the others. The guy’s creative authenticity can match Alice’s existential one. We see them in New-York and then during their meaningfully absurd trips throughout West Germany. The power of their psychological encounter without any expectation of any advantage from both sides is strong because they leave life in peace. Only life left in peace can reward people with enlightenment.

The film shows that it is possible to feel together in the world, without any sentimental ties. It depicts humanism in psychological action. “Alice…” is a film of moods when visual currents follow the music of emotions with freedom from conventions and strains. It is a film where Being is awakened to a human life.

There is a widespread opinion that children cannot be taken seriously as friends of adults: that children are too childish to be in a responsible togetherness. Wenders’ film disproves this prejudice against children as human beings – as if they are just creatures without existential intelligence, intuitive insight and ability for rational assessments of human relations.

Wim Wenders “Alice in the Cities” (1974) – full film with Eng. Subtitles

A contemplative journalist Philip Winter (Rudiger Vogler – a rare artist of gentle characterization through emotional tonality) gets stuck in the middle of USA by suddenly losing the ability to write about this country for the German magazine which hired him for this purpose. He drives from place to place, in vain looks for views with his camera and became completely paralized by the creative block.

By chance, in hotel lobby Philip met a woman with child and learned that she goes through a crisis of another nature – through a tough period of personal romance.

But Phil’s girlfriend in whose place he wanted to stay for the night in New-York, has her own troubles and issues and cannot let him stay.

Phil had to return to the hotel only to find that the mother of the girl is rushing to leave and asked him to look after her daughter – the request which made him speechless and Alice worried as to what is happening with her mother.

In short, Phil and Alice (Yella Rottländer) found themselves in company of one another waiting to hear from Alice’s mother.

It’s unusual to see that there are people who in this situation will not go to police or relevant administrative office and take the situation to the shoulders of their humanity. After moments of tough decision-making Phil decides to return to Germany, as he planned before… but now with Alice whose relatives live in Germany.

Our new friends travel through Germany in order to find the place of Alice’s grandparents. It is as unrealistic as the human soul.

Step by step disinterested partnership between the lost writer and lost girl with the independent and peculiar personality made Phil by her very presence near by – able to write again.

The taste for observation and interest in life return to Philip.

posted on May 27 2012 –   Wim Wenders’ “Alice in the Cities” (1974) – A World Where You May Entrust Your Child to a Stranger by Acting-Out Politics