The only film in which I've seen French actress Solveig Dommartin has been Wings of Desire, one of my favorite movies, directed by Wim Wenders. I don't own the DVD, because I love watching this gorgeous-looking film in a theater. I first saw the movie in the summer of 1989 when I spent a summer working in London, and at first I thought I hated it. A day later, I realized how much I liked the movie. Before I left London, I bought a gorgeous oversized poster that I had framed and currently hangs in my home office. I like to look up and see Bruno Ganz as an angel, standing on the edge of a building, looking pensive. If you haven't seen Wings of Desire, bear in mind that it's deliberately paced, subtitled (characters speak French and German), a little over two hours long and requires attention.

But once you become absorbed in the film, it's worth the time and the slightly sore derriere. Bruno Ganz is an angel who is monitoring the people of Berlin, trying to ease their sorrows, and who falls for a trapeze artist who dresses in chicken-feather wings as an angel during her act ... Dommartin, as pictured above. However, angels can't feel emotions the way humans do. Somehow Peter Falk, sort of playing himself, is entangled in all this while he's shooting a movie in Berlin. Even if you can't understand the dialogue (I can't), it sounds poetic and almost magical at times, without being at all precious or twee. That's the thing: I've never been a fan of the "guardian angels among us" trend, and I think most of that angel craze was way too saccharine for my taste, but the angels in this movie appeal to me, with their world of grays and shadows.

Wings of Desire was photographed by Henri Alekan, the cinematographer who also shot Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. Dommartin only appeared in about nine films, including a couple of other Wenders films, Until the End of the World (for which she also has a story credit) and Faraway, So Close, ranging from 1983 to 1997. It was reported today that the actress died on January 11 of a heart attack. Even though I know nothing about her, and have only seen her in one film, it was such a beautiful film and such a lovely performance that I can't help but feel sad.

CATEGORIES Features, Cinematical