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Wim Wenders: On the Road Again

October 2 - November 21

From October 2 through November 21, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents the retrospective Wim Wenders: On the Road Again, encompassing eleven of the director’s key features and six early shorts. All will be screened in new digital copies, nine of them 2K or 4K digital restorations overseen by the director himself.

Wenders’s renowned early films, including THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK, ALICE IN THE CITIES, and KINGS OF THE ROAD, have long been unavailable due to rights issues and damage to the original print materials. In 2012, Wenders and his wife Donata established a foundation to accomplish the restoration of his films in order to make them once again available worldwide. Wenders supervised the painstaking work in every detail.

Of the three New German Cinema directors who rocketed to international fame in the Seventies, Wenders is the filmmaker whose themes are most rooted in the angst of contemporary times. R.W. Fassbinder and Werner Herzog each explored the darkness of the soul with a fanaticism and eccentricity that had its antecedents in centuries of German art. By contrast, Wenders portrays a world without a past, a culture wiped clean of resonance. Its palaces are sterile airport lounges; its temples of contemplation are roadside bars and desolate motels; and its inhabitants are wanderers without a country to call their own.

That most famous line from KINGS OF THE ROAD, “The Yanks have colonized our subconscious,” echoes through much of his work as a recurring truth and a roadmap for a career-long obsession with Americana in its many aspects. American music influenced his earliest shorts, including ALABAMA and 3 AMERICAN LPs, and New York is the launching point for ALICE IN THE CITIES.

The outlaw mystique of Hollywood maverick Dennis Hopper is a heavy influence in the shaping of THE AMERICAN FRIEND, and the lonely aura of Los Angeles after dark dominates THE STATE OF THINGS. As seen in PARIS, TEXAS, the director’s vision of the American West with its wide-open spaces and endless highways is colored by the unique sensibilities of American collaborators including writer Sam Shepard and guitarist Ry Cooder.

International acclaim brought Wenders wider production options, and especially through his documentary work he becomes the footloose wanderer, following his curiosity on a global scale. TOKYO-GA, NOTEBOOK ON CITIES AND CLOTHES, and BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB are among the films that give testimony to the scope of his interests. Closer to his Berlin home, WINGS OF DESIRE saw two angels as the ultimate men without a country.

Of special note in this series is the presentation of the full-length director’s cut version of UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD. Never before available in the U.S. in its full length, this is the film Wenders considers his ultimate road movie. For any follower of his work, there is a déjà vu quality to this futuristic multi-national sci-fi film set in a plethora of locations that revisit the settings of previous films, including San Francisco, Paris, Lisbon, Tokyo, and Berlin. Typical of Wenders, the past is collapsed into the future, and the future is on the move.

Special thanks to Brian Belovarac, Janus Films, for assistance in programming this series.

— Barbara Scharres

Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first Wenders film on any Saturday in October or November, and get a ticket for the second Wenders film that day (if applicable) at this discount rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second feature only. Discount available in person at the box office only.)

The poster exhibition Wenders and the New German Cinema opens October 23 in our Gallery/Café, co-presented with Goethe-Institut Chicago. Featured are more than twenty rare European editions of German film posters.