Why It’s So Hard To Make A Decent Architecture Film

Can Wim Wenders, one of the most imaginative filmmakers to portray cities, get it right?

If anybody were capable of assembling a series of films that could drop us into a significant work of architecture, and make us feel as if we were actually there, it would be filmmaker Wim Wenders. Wenders has arguably depicted contemporary cities and their buildings with more imagination and verve than any other filmmaker. In Wings of Desire (1987), he showed Berlin from the point of view of sad-sack angels who liked to perch atop Brandenburg Gate, and he enabled us to see the beauty in a tragic, still-divided gray city. In The American Friend (1977), there’s an eerily prescient shot of Dennis Hopper walking along the abandoned elevated structure of New York‘s old West Side Highway with the World Trade Center looming darkly in the distance. And in Pina (2011), a documentary shot in 3-D about the German choreographer Pina Bausch, Wenders uses her dance company’s hometown, Wuppertal, as the most amazing open-air stage with performances on street corners and in the cars of that city’s crazy-looking suspended rail line. Wenders knows his way around the built environment.

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