813-816 Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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DarkImbecile
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Re: Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)

#26 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon May 27, 2019 5:11 pm

Torn between being thrilled at another typically insightful and too rare Sloper post and deeply disappointed that we didn’t get one when Motel Hell was the Film Club selection.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)

#27 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon May 27, 2019 10:21 pm

Sloper wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 4:01 pm
Bruno's line also addresses Robert's need to be seen, and Robert's addresses Bruno's need to embrace change. Without being sentimental about it, there is a kind of down-to-earth heroism in the way these two damaged men have made the effort to engage with each other. The film's multiple titles all come to fruition as we see how, by simply passing time together, Bruno and Robert have attained a kind of mastery over their own lives.
I agree with most of this, particularly the analysis of Robert and Bruno’s psychology, though while they certainly help one another achieve newfound growth and readiness to face their fears again, I’m not sure I’d call this mastery. I view the idea of mastery as a measure of refining skills to achieve confidence in control, a behavioral form of action. Robert and Bruno gain insight and acceptance into their respective anxieties through one another’s presence, but Wenders makes it clear throughout this film that neither character has control over his life, or that anyone has control over other people (i.e. women, seen and unseen) or events (i.e. car wreck). It’s the acceptance that these longings for, or attempts at mastery as futile that allow Robert (and we hope Bruno) to forfeit this expectation that has lead to existential crises, and become willing to throw themselves into life, exercising what little control they have to lower their defenses, become vulnerable, and face the risks of the uncontrollable, including change, personal significance, and emotional connection with others. I believe they achieve a kind of anti-mastery, and through that humility, a sense of serenity that allows Robert and Bruno to move on with smiles on their faces. This could be viewed as individual mastery I suppose, if viewed as isolated from other forces in their lives, though even that doesn’t fit with Wenders’ understanding of the emotional man. One doesn’t ever achieve mastery over oneself, as he is subject to intrusive emotions and thoughts, and if one ever did achieve mastery over himself, what would be the point of living without growth? But these men get to smile in this moment and have gained irreversible insight that will help them become more content people.
[Note: this isn’t meant to be an argument over semantics; I actually do see the acceptance of ‘mastery over life as false’ to be a sense of serenity as ‘acute mastery of the mood’- so I appreciate that you used the word “mastery” because its dissection sparked further analysis of the metaphysics Wenders explores here in these characters’ internal drives and relationship with the rest of the world that I hadn’t considered as extensively before]

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Boosmahn
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Re: Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)

#28 Post by Boosmahn » Tue May 28, 2019 8:04 am

The one shot that sticks out from my mind is when the electronic rock(?) music swells and we get a beautiful shot of the tree/car wreck. I can't find it anywhere online.

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ando
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Re: Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)

#29 Post by ando » Wed May 29, 2019 1:40 am

Loads to unpack with this film. No one (in this thread) has mentioned what Wenders may be saying about the inheritors of Hitler's failed Third Reich or the children of that German WWII generation. Wenders, Herzog and Fassbinder were three in a handful of filmmakers during the seventies who attempted to illustrate what and/or how the younger generation were grappling with that recent history. Is it like what James Baldwin said about the American Beatniks (his contemporaries) who were perpetually "on the road" because they could not or would not face their history?

The Pepsi-Cola motifs, the American (or, at least, American sounding) records in Bruno's collection (sorry, couldn't identify the songs) and Robert's comment about the American occupation are obvious topical references but is there any deeper significance or influence of the American presence in their lives?

Certainly, the influence of film presentational history runs throughout the narrative, not only due to Bruno's line of work but also in the ways that both project their imaginations to other people - whether through Robert's creative writing; then primitively, through that scrim for the children; or in Bruno's demonstration of splicing and/or recreation of the perverts methods of obscuring portions of a movie-in-progress for sexual kicks and/or in the ultimate full feature showing, from start (though not completely) to finish. Why couldn't both main remain through a promised showing of a full feature through its completion? Because they had embarrassed (even mortified) themselves in the completion of the creative act with the kids? Because their audience was imperso Al and so had nothing in stake? Why was it more cool to walk out (though, actually, their flight from the cinema like two escapee Marx brothers in, initially, the wrong direction was anything but cool!)? Are they hooked on flakiness?

The use of still photographs throughout is certainly poignant. The obvious shots (nods) to Fritz Lang and Andrei Tarkovsky are easy to identify but who is in that cut-out (in the three director Polaroid shot) by Robert? And does anyone here have an inkling about why he does it?

A second viewing is in order for me. Though I'm not sure if it will clarify as much as make a deeper impression of their frightening emotional and psychic ambivalence/paralysis. But I assuredly won't fail to get another kick out of
SpoilerShow
Bruno's perplexed expression over what to do with a flaming black wax bust candle impression of Adolf Hitler with which he lights his cigarette.
You just know Wenders was busting to bring in The Doors! :lol:

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Sloper
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Re: Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)

#30 Post by Sloper » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:44 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 10:21 pm
I agree with most of this, particularly the analysis of Robert and Bruno’s psychology, though while they certainly help one another achieve newfound growth and readiness to face their fears again, I’m not sure I’d call this mastery.
No, you said it much better in your post - I really struggled to phrase this correctly, because despite my complaint about themes being spelt out, this remains a very low-key ending, and any points being made are made very obliquely. That makes it sound vague, but it doesn't feel vague because of the tonal and emotional clarity of the final scenes. I guess I wanted to express this in words somehow, and to say that the film's English title seems to fit the ending in a (mostly) un-ironic way. But as you say, what the characters achieve at the end is more complex than 'mastery over their own lives'.
ando wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 1:40 am
No one (in this thread) has mentioned what Wenders may be saying about the inheritors of Hitler's failed Third Reich or the children of that German WWII generation. Wenders, Herzog and Fassbinder were three in a handful of filmmakers during the seventies who attempted to illustrate what and/or how the younger generation were grappling with that recent history. Is it like what James Baldwin said about the American Beatniks (his contemporaries) who were perpetually "on the road" because they could not or would not face their history? The Pepsi-Cola motifs, the American (or, at least, American sounding) records in Bruno's collection (sorry, couldn't identify the songs) and Robert's comment about the American occupation are obvious topical references but is there any deeper significance or influence of the American presence in their lives?
I don't really have any answers to this, but maybe it's interesting that the ex-Nazi ex-silent-film-accompanist singles out Die Nibelungen, a nationalistic epic 'dedicated to the German people' and one of Hitler's favourites, and Ben-Hur, which you could see as an emblem of Hollywood's (and America's) encroaching cultural dominance? (Probably less interesting and relevant: Fritz Lang made another two-part German epic in the same year as the remake of Ben-Hur.)
soundchaser wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 4:11 pm
And to follow up on one of Sloper’s points: yes, that defecation scene, coming as early as it does, really sets a tone. It’s an unusually bathetic way of presenting a protagonist on-screen, and although I don’t think the effect is necessarily humorous, I remember being struck by the result of the defecation itself being so...large. And the way Wenders frames things has stuck with me as well. The relative size of Vogler compared to the beach makes it feel like we’re watching a “primitive” man in an old nature documentary — like we’re seeing something at once a part of us and apart from us.
It's sort of a primal, heroic shit, isn't it? It's this film's equivalent of Siegfried venturing alone into the forest to slay Fafnir.

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