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If you’re a burgeoning cinephile, then you’ve got to check out the films by Wim Wenders.
Wim Wenders is a famous filmmaker responsible for helping launch the New German Cinema wave. His films are in stark contrast to the hyper-violent and exaggerated storylines of Hollywood films.
Wim Wenders doesn’t just make films for entertainment. He makes us think about life and the deeper themes which he explores in his cinema.
So have we convinced you to watch his films?
Here are the best Wim Wenders films that you should check out:
1. The American Friend
Wim Wenders is such a great filmmaker that he managed to venture outside of German films to work with international stars.
In The American Friend, he brings together the legendary Swiss actor Bruno Ganz and the American actor Dennis Hopper together. This story was slightly adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.
This is an exciting thriller film full of twists and turns. If you’re a fan of suspense films, then this is one of the best mysteries that you likely haven’t heard of.
Despite it having many inspirations, this is one of the most original films that Wim Wenders has made.
2. Paris, Texas
This is one of the most unique films depicting the American landscape and the loneliness that exists within the country. It tells a uniquely American story that few American filmmakers want to tell!
It took the German Wim Wenders to tell the story of a loner, Travis Henderson, who decides to reconnect with his family, whom he hasn’t seen in several years.
He decides to travel to the town of Paris, Texas to reconnect with his child and his former girlfriend. Some of the most natural acting performances in American cinema are in this film, and it’s all thanks to Wim Wenders’ excellent direction.
3. Buena Vista Social Club
Apart from his narrative cinema, Wim Wenders has also received acclaim for his documentaries.
Buena Vista Social Club follows a group of Cuban musicians who have lost prominence following Castro’s rise in Cuba. It shows the richness of the Cuban culture and presents us with a beautiful legacy that few of us would have known about before.
Not only is this one of Wim Wenders best films, but it’s arguably one of the best documentaries ever made. It’s also a great template for any aspiring documentary filmmaker.
4. Kings of the Road
Now let’s jump into one of Wim Wenders’ best German films. Kings of the Road is a staple of the German New Cinema wave.
This story follows a man who rescues another man from a suicide attempt. The two men travel on the road from West Germany to the frontier of the East Germany border.
They discuss life and meet many characters on the way. It’s a sentimental film to show how friendship matters in keeping us on our feet. This film has no doubt served as an inspiration for many other road films and will continue to do so for generations to come.
5. Alice In The Cities
This was actually the first of the road films that Wim Wenders made. It’s partially based on the novel Long Farewell by Peter Handke.
In this film, the writer Philip travels with young Alice, whose mother he had a one-night stand with. They travel across Germany to find Alice’s grandmother.
This is one of the best road films made, and Wim Wenders didn’t know much about the genre before he made the film. This is likely why it’s so unique and manages not to seem like a complete copy of other popular road films.
6. The Scarlet Letter
This is a German film based on the famous American novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. While seldom mentioned by the German media, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
He had a difficult time directing this film as he was still new to filmmaking around this time. The film wasn’t a huge hit, but it’s still worthy of praise and is one of Wim Wenders’ best films.
It’s a great adaptation of the novel and features great acting from many talented actors from across Europe.
Some of the best films are often about the best filmmakers. Shyam Benegal’s documentary about Satyajit Ray was often considered the gold standard of making a film about filmmakers.
Wim Wenders’ own tribute to Yasujiro Ozu in Tokyo-Ga is also a great runner-up. For filmmakers interested in making documentaries about their cinematic role models, this film should serve as an inspiration.
The film explores Yasujiro Ozu’s filmmaking style as well as the themes of some of his most popular films. The film also features interviews with many of Ozu’s crew members and favorite cast members.
The film focuses a lot on Ozu’s depiction of older Tokyo and contrasts it to the Tokyo of the 1980s. Among the best films to watch are Ozu’s films and this documentary is a perfect introduction to his work.
8. Wings of Desire
This 1987 film is often considered to be Wim Wenders’ magnum opus and one of the most important movies to watch. It’s a serious drama film that requires you to clear your schedule out for the day.
You’ll be fixated by the stunning visuals and the subdued acting. The story follows a group of angels who land in Berlin to listen to the thoughts of the inhabitants.
Their role is to comfort the distressed inhabitants of Berlin. While this plot might seem trite and would fail in the hands of an inferior director, it’s a masterpiece with Wim Wenders’ direction.
The theme of angels helping humans has been used in cinema before. However, no other drama film has encapsulated this relationship more than Wings of Desire.
The film was remade in English as City of Angels, starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan.
Discover Wim Wenders
Now you know the best films of Wim Wenders and how he has shaped German cinema as well as international cinema.
For an introduction to Wim Wenders, you should check out his American films The American Friend and Paris, Texas. He’s also a master of the road movie and exemplified this with Kings of the Road and Alice In The Cities.
He’s also made great documentaries about talented artists. His magnum opus, Wings of Desire, is also not to be missed!
You can find more great film recommendations on our blog.