Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Wim Wenders' "The Road to Emmaus": "On the third day after Jesus was crucified, two of His disciples walked sadly to the village of Emmaus, about ten kilometers out of Jerusalem, when they were joined by a stranger..."
I've been stepping into Wim Wenders recently, and I can no longer wait to blog about him, since he is one of the celebrities to have actually set foot on Praia Grande (for those who have no clue, "The Praia", is a beach not far from Sintra, on the surfwaved washed Atlantic coast, with an imposing dark cliff where dinosaurs' footprints make strange companions to colonies of barnacles).
Three encounters with the German film director and photographer. First, Uncle Wim did shoot in Praia Grande, among other locations in Portugal (for "The State of Things", 1982) and, of course, he put Lisbon and the music of Madredeus on the map, so to speak, with "Lisbon Story" (1994). Second, in this year's ARCO, a gallery exposed what Wenders himself describes as his own favorite photography, "The Road to Emmaus", taken not far from Jerusalem. (Do believe my three years of Holy Land, please, that photo accurately depicts the paradox that confronts any visitor: "Is that it? Is it for this barren land, for this severe and near-empty surface, but for the occasional rock, dried bush or raquitic olive tree, that so many go on fighting for?"). And third, the article that he wrote about "The Downfall", Hirschbiegel's film about the last 12 days of Hitler under-ground, in Berlin (the article was first published in "Die Zeit", but I've actually read it in "El Mundo", the day of the premiere of "El Hundimiento" in Madrid).
About the photo is worth saying that Wenders, when assuming his photographer's persona, sees himself as a "witness" or an "interpreter", and that he associates the images in his shows to a short text, a Haiku, which de describes as what he would say to a good friend, if they would stood together in front of these pictures. (The caption to the photo above is indeed Wender's chosen Haiku).
About the article, I think one should not see the film without reading it, and vice versa. I intend to blog about the "Downfall" myself, which I saw in the original version in one of the few Madrid cinemas where we are not treated to the dreaded dubbed versions, but let me just consider the "punch point" of Wender's article. Why on earth we were not able to see Hitler's (and Frau Hitler's) death? ("Por qué no demostrarnos que ese cabrón ha muerto por fin?") Why such reserve and discretion, when we were not spared gory war scenes, Mauser induced suicides and plenty of saw & blood amputations? Uncle Wim goes further and talks of descomunal trivialization, engagement in a divinization process (of Hitler), acceptance of the guilty party's narrative viewpoint, benevolous understanding of the "private lives" of Hitler and his fellow travelers in "Der Untergang"..
I know my children read occasionally their father's blog: I hope they see Wim Wender's point.