(aka 'Alice in the Cities')
West Germany 1974
Spearheading a retrospective of the work of German writer-director Wim Wenders at BFI Southbank, this bittersweet gem from 1974 delivers an ambling tale of loss and estrangement which rings as true today as itwould have more than 30 years ago. Philip Winter (Rüdiger Volger) is the disenchanted German journalist who is mooching across America in desperate search of a muse. While in New York, he is thrown together with cherubic, inquisitive and testy young lass Alice (Yella Röttlander), who has been abandoned by her mother, and the pair decide to travel back to Europe with no real idea of where the road will take them. The film is full of love/hate relationships, an idea that is physically represented by the prickly bond between Philip and Alice , but who also symbolise Wenders’ own bewilderment (and wide-eyed fascination) with the architecture, advertising, music, photography and inescapable cultural-sprawl of the US. There are points when the director allows his voice to ring a little loudly from behind the camera, but the richness and depth of both the photography and the characterisation manage to brush any signs of preachiness and sentimentality from view.
Wim Wenders's roughly styled but sensitive 1974 film about fading cultural identities. Long-faced Rüdiger Vogler, a Wenders favorite, is a German photojournalist in search of the Real America. While in New York, he reluctantly accepts responsibility for Alice, a nine-year-old German girl abandoned by her mother. Together they return to Europe in search of the girl's grandmother, remembered, dimly, as living in a small village. Which one, they don't know. Without a place to stop, the characters continue to move--restlessly, desperately, the end point always out of sight.
Theatrical Release: March 3rd, 1974 (TV)
DVD Review: Axiom Films - Region 2 - PAL
|DVD Box Cover
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|Axiom Films - Region 2 - PAL
|1:47:12 (4% PAL speedup)
Average Bitrate: 6.24 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|German / English / Dutch (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Cousins interviewing Wim Wenders (33:06)
This more clandestine Wender's work has recently had a festival/retrospective touring and has probably had some, at least, cleaning but it still shows its very pragmatic production roots. I believe the source was 16mm and at times the grain looks wonderful but transposing this to, even dual-layered DVD, can often result in issues of severe artifacts and some unusual patchiness. If one can accept these inherent limitations then the viewing is... what it is - and this appearance is probably not far off the best that it can look at this time. If you are prepared for the roughly-hone visual intensity then one can quite easily enjoy the wonderful film. It can add to the experience IMO. I point no fingers and Axiom seem a decent company. This DVD is progressively transferred, coded for region 2 in the PAL standard.
Supplements include two segments - Mark Cousins interviews Wim Wenders for 30 minutes and the director looks quite old as he rests on a couch/daybed. Like most interviews with Wenders he is laid back and informative. He doesn't seem to hold back much. There is also a 15 minute+ conversation with Rüdiger Vogler, Yella Rottländer and Wim Wenders as a kind of 'making of' with details of production and editing bantered about. No totally interesting but the inclusion is still appreciated. There is also a well pieced together liner notes booklet for those keen.
Fans of the director will want to jump on this as I think the only other edition is in an extensive Aussie boxset. I enjoyed it, better than some of Wender's other efforts. I found it a bit ponderous at times - to each his own. It's worth seeing for sure in my opinion. I'm also quite happy about Axiom and look forward to their next DVD releases.