Set in 1999, a woman (Dommartin) has a car accident with some bank robbers, who enlist her help to take the bank money to a drop in Paris. On the way she runs into another fugitive from the law (Hurt), an American who is being chased by the CIA. The charges are false, he claims. They want to confiscate a device his father invented which allows anyone to record their dreams and vision. On the run from both the bank robbers and the CIA, the couple span the globe, ending up in Australia at his father's (von Sydow) research facility, where they hope to play back the recordings Hurt captured for his blind mother. Set in the futuristic year of 1999, a subplot about a damaged Indian nuclear satellite crashing and causing the end of civilization is a puzzling addition to the film.
Sometimes-muddled road movie-turns-sci fi. Hurt plays a man who is traveling the world taking pictures with a special camera that will enable the blind to see (specifically, his blind mother). He meets up with Dommartin on the way, and they predictably hit it off. Set in 1999, a subplot about a nuclear satellite that has fallen to earth and presumably destroyed civilization only adds to the confusion.
This was really two movies, very loosely strung together, and without much to say. There is a semblance of a man hunt for the main characters, but is seldom referred to and ill used. I am quite simply amazed that this director has been able to get funding for more than one movie, if this is in any way typical of his work. A movie doesn't need gunfights and car chases to be entertaining, but they do need something of substance, something that is sorely lacking here.
I find this film to be beyond description - in some ways it is dated - the car map system looked cool when nobody had GPS. It reflects the visions of the cyberpunk literature and cultural movements of the late '80s and early '90s, which has some relevance, but has morphed beyond recognition.
In actual 1999, I found a great prophetic irony in the opening lines: "1999 was the year the Indian Nuclear Satellite went out of control. No one knew where it might land. It soared above the ozone layer like a lethal bird of prey. The whole world was alarmed..."
I rewrote them to reflect the actual reality: 1999 was the year the dot com and Y2K bug hype went out of control. No one knew where it might end. It soared above our corporate servers and venture-capital-burn-rate like a lethal bird of prey. The whole world was alarmed...
So there are some decently interesting science fiction aspects to this movie, but I would say that this is actually the ultimate art film as road movie. Just see "Wings Of Desire" if you don't think Wenders is an art film director. Of course I have to give it extra points just for spending extra time in one of my favorite world-class bars - the Tosca.
Even though this is a cyberpunk sci-fi film, and an art film and a road film, it manages ultimately to be introspectively psychological (as do all Wenders films that I have seen so far). I cannot watch this movie without shedding at least a tear for the beautiful and talented Solveig Dommarten, whose career and life were cut far too short. I see other reviews talking about the lack of story. This movie is better watched as painting - the title or theme may be short, but it unfolds in the tasting of the experience of the images, some of which were pretty striking in 1991. I thought the theatrical release was pretty good at the time, but if you can, slow down and watch the 5 hour trilogy version (a third at a time). 646f9e108c
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