Wings of Desire (1987) Poster

Bruno Ganz: Damiel



  • Damiel : When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions. Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there? When did time begin, and where does space end? Isn't life under the sun just a dream? Isn't what I see, hear, and smell just the mirage of a world before the world? Does evil actually exist, and are there people who are really evil? How can it be that I, who am I, wasn't before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am?

  • [first lines] 

    [in German, using English subtitles] 

    Damiel : [voiceover]  When the child was a child, it walked with its arms swinging. It wanted the stream to be a river, the river a torrent, and this puddle to be the sea. When the child was a child, it didn't know it was a child. Everything was full of life, and all life was one. When the child was a child, it had no opinion about anything, no habits. It often sat cross-legged, took off running, had a cowlick in its hair, and didn't make faces when photographed.

  • Damiel : It's great to live by the spirit, to testify day by day for eternity, only what's spiritual in people's minds. But sometimes I'm fed up with my spiritual existence. Instead of forever hovering above I'd like to feel a weight grow in me to end the infinity and to tie me to earth. I'd like, at each step, each gust of wind, to be able to say "Now." Now and now" and no longer "forever" and "for eternity." To sit at an empty place at a card table and be greeted, even by a nod. Every time we participated, it was a pretense. Wrestling with one, allowing a hip to be put out in pretense, catching a fish in pretense, in pretense sitting at tables, drinking and eating in pretense. Having lambs roasted and wine served in the tents out there in the desert, only in pretense. No, I don't have to beget a child or plant a tree but it would be rather nice coming home after a long day to feed the cat, like Philip Marlowe, to have a fever and blackended fingers from the newspaper, to be excited not only by the mind but, at last, by a meal, by the line of a neck by an ear. To lie! Through one's teeth. As you're walking, to feel your bones moving along. At last to guess, instead of always knowing. To be able to say "ah" and "oh" and "hey" instead of "yea" and "amen."

    Cassiel : Yeah, to be able, once in a while, to enthuse for evil. To draw all the demons of the earth from passers-by and to chase them out into the world. To be a savage.

    Damiel : Or at last to feel how it is to take off shoes under a table and wriggle your toes barefoot, like that.

    Cassiel : Stay alone! Let things happen! Keep serious! We can only be savages in as much as we keep serious. Do no more than look! Assemble, testify, preserve! Remain spirit! Keep your distance. Keep your word.

  • The Dying Man : [thinking to himself while lying on the side of a road after a motorcycle accident]  You never saw anyone die? I stink of gasoline. I saw it all clearly - the Mercedes, the pool of oil. Karin, I should have told you. It can't be that simple. I've still so much to do.

    Damiel : [Damiel places his hands on the Dying Man's head]  As I came up the mountain, out of the misty valley into the sun. The fire on the cattle range, the potatoes in the ashes, the boathouse floating in the lake. The Southern Cross.

    The Dying Man : [slowly begins to speak Damiel's thoughts out loud. They speak together at first. Then, Damiel walks away, and only the Dying Man speaks]  The Far East. The Great North. The Wild West. The Great Bear Lake. Tristan da Cunha. The Mississippi Delta. Stromboli. The old houses of Charlottenburg. Albert Camus. The morning light. The child's eyes. The swim in the waterfall. The spots of the first drops of rain. The sun. The bread and wine. Hopping. Easter. The veins of leaves. The blowing grass. The color of stones. The pebbles on the stream's bed. The white tablecloth outdoors. The dream of the house in the house. The dear one asleep in the next room. The peaceful Sundays. The horizon. The light from the room in the garden. The night flight. Riding a bicycle with no hands. The beautiful stranger. My father. My mother. My wife. My child.

  • Damiel : First, I'll have a bath. Then I'll be shaved by a Turkish barber who will massage me down to the fingertips. Then I'll buy a newspaper and read it from headlines to horoscope. On the first day, I'll be waited upon... For requests, ask the neighbor. If someone stumbles over my legs, he'll have to apologize. I'll be pushed around, and I'll push back. In the crowded bar, the bartender will find me a table. A service car will stop, and the mayor will take me aboard. I'll be known to everyone, and suspect to no one. I won't say a word, and will understand every language. That will be my first day.

  • Damiel : It happened once... It happened once, and so it will be forever.

  • Cassiel : Twenty years ago today a Soviet jet fighter crashed into the lake at Spandau. Fifty years ago -...

    Damiel : The Olympic Games!

    Cassiel : A Frenchman flew over the city in a hot air balloon 20 years ago.

    Damiel : Like those refugees recently.

    Cassiel : And today on the Lilienthaler Chaussee, a man slowed down and looked over his shoulder into space. And a man who wanted to end it all today put a different collector's stamp on each farewell letter.

  • Cassiel : An old man read to a child from "The Odyssey" and the young listener stopped blinking completely. And what do you have to report?

    Damiel : A woman in the rain who folded up her umbrella and let herself get drenched. A schoolboy describing to his teacher how a fern grows out of the earth and astonished the teacher. A blind woman who sensed my presence and groped at her watch.

  • Damiel : I want to transform what my timeless downward look has taught me and learn to bear a harsh sight, a brusque shout, a sour smell. I've been on the outside long enough, absent long enough. I've stood outside the world long enough. I want to enter into the History of the World or even just hold an apple in my hand. Look. See those feathers on the water? Vanished already. See those tire marks on the asphalt and now the cigarette butt rolling along. Look how the prehistoric river has dried up and only today's rain puddles quiver. Enough of the world behind the world!

  • Damiel : [inner voice]  Something happened. It's still going on. It binds me. It was true in the night and it's true now during the day. Even more so. Who was who? I was inside her and she was all around me. Who in the world can claim that he was ever truly together with another being? I am together. No mortal child was conceived, only an immortal shared image. I learned to be amazed last night. She came to take me home and I found a home.

  • Damiel : Hey, wait! You wanted to tell me more. I want to know. Everything!

    Peter Falk : You need to figure that out for yourself. That's the fun of it.

See also

Release Dates | Official Sites | Company Credits | Filming & Production | Technical Specs

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