Sunday, August 20, 2017

#602: Kings of the Road

Directed by: WIM WENDERS
1974, TSPDT Rank #289

After the warm-up provided by his previous two films (Alice in the Cities and Wrong Move), Wim Wenders set out to make the ultimate German road movie with Kings of the Road, and I doubt that any other film has as good of a claim to that title. Wenders perfectly conveys both the mood of 1970s West Germany and the feeling of being on a road to nowhere. While Alice in the Cities boasted a much more dynamic chemistry between its two main characters, and Wrong Move had a clearer geographic start and end point, the aimlessness and desolation of Kings of the Road is its greatest attribute and makes it feel like a step forward for Wenders. While the film can feel a bit disjointed at times, it's amazing that it coheres as well as it does when you consider that it was mostly improvised, with no script to follow whatsoever. Wenders and the two main actors (Rüdiger Vogler and Hanns Zischler) clearly had a knack for getting inside the characters' heads and coming up with situations and dialogue which fit the gradually developing mood of the film. Since the viewer spends so much time with these characters, becoming accustomed to their unusual relationship and their various eccentricities, the ending to this purely episodic film ultimately feels so fitting that it seems scripted - even if it wasn't. You could say that this film was a gamble that paid off, or a testament to the possibilities of improvisational filmmaking, but I think that for Wenders, the journey was the destination. He simply took the journey, and in return, he got the film that he wanted to make.

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