On translating some of Wim Wenders’s reviews a few years back, I was greatly impressed by their immediacy, passion and dry sense of humour – all qualities found in his own work, though less readily apparent there, especially the wit. Now his writings have been gathered in this almost (but not completely) comprehensive anthology.
They are cleanly rendered, though some notes would be useful to explain the cultural allusions – then, for instance, we would know that the phrase ‘Voluntary Self-Control’, in a review of a sex film, refers, not to coitus interruptus, but to the industry’s self-imposed system of censorship. There is a minimal, unilluminating biography and filmography and no attempt to link the writing to his work.
And that, of course, is the main point of reprinting the pieces. They are diverting, often perceptive, but it is in the nature of journalism that some of the films – Savodelli’s Lydia, Thome’s Red Sun – have long since passed into oblivion. But what do these reviews reveal about Wenders and his movies?
Like the film-makers of the French New Wave, Wenders cut his teeth on criticism. Like them, he learned to love movies at the Paris Cinemathèque; like their writing, his reviews were a programme for what cinema ought, and his own future cinema sought,