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Until The End of the World

Topics: Popular Media | Add A CommentBy admin | December 25, 2008

Wim Wenders’ Overlooked Masterpiece – Bis ans Ende der Welt (Until The End of the World)

One of my favorite films of all time is also probably one of the most overlooked: Wim Wenders’ Until The End of the World. Released in 1991, and set in 1999, it tells a multi-layered tale about a novelist (Eugene Fitzpatrick, played by Sam Neill) who follows his dreamy and spontaneous wife (Claire Tourneur, played by Solveig Dommartin) around the world as she chases a mysterious man (Sam Farber, alias Trevor McPhee – William Hurt) from country to country, finally ending up in Australia, where she discovers that he is the son of an American scientist who has developed a special camera that will enable the blind to see. As a backdrop to all of this, the world is wondering if America will shoot down a failing Indian nuclear satellite. All of which gives the impression that this is a Sci-Fi film. Which it is, in part, utilizing some very well-executed realistic-future sets and props. But more importantly, it’s a poetic tale of pursuing your dreams, understanding the connectedness of things, and one of the quickest tours of multi-cultural quirks ever captured on film. So why am I writing about this film now? Because a friend just gave me their 3-Disc PAL format DVD version. Part of the reason for the film’s original weak performance in the states was the fact that it was 160 minutes long, which is ironic, because the actual complete version on this disc is 280 minutes, in three parts. The original release was beautiful, but this even more beautiful-er. The additional footage smooths some minor bumps in the rhythm of the original release, and the breaks are perfectly timed for the plot points. It’s almost like watching an epic mini-series. Even if you never check out this film, check out the soundtrack, which in typical Wim Wenders fashion is an incredibly diverse and listenable mix including Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Patti Smith, Jane Siberry with k.d. lang, T-Bone Burnett, Depeche Mode, U2, R.E.M., Can, Elvis Costello, David Byrne, and…Pygmies! Whenever I haven’t prepared a mix for a party I throw this on and people praise my genius.