18 January 2022

Berlin, Germany

As the German title indicates, the film WINGS OF DESIRE (original title Der Himmel über Berlin) is set in Berlin, Germany. Filming took place from 20 October until 20 December 1986. At that time, the city was still divided into West- and East-Berlin, separated by the Wall.

Wings of Desire, 0:02:55
The film follows two angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander), who have observed the city and its inhabitants for centuries. They are invisible to humans but children can see them. The angels are able to comfort people without being noticed but have no influence on history. When Damiel falls in love with the lonely trapeze artist Marion (Solveig Dommartin), he decides to become mortal. They meet each other at a bar during a concert by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. 

The movie was shot largely in black-and-white as it represents how angels experience the world. Scenes filmed from a point of view of humans are in colour.
At the beginning of the film, Damiel stands on top of the ruins of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) on the Kurfürstendamm. In the night of November 22 to 23, 1943, the church was heavily damaged during a bombing raid. After the Second World War, the fate of the building was uncertain for a long time. In 1953 a series of stamps with a surcharge was issued, intended to raise money for reconstruction.

The stamps show the church both before and after the bombing. In 1956 it was decided to build a new church (partially visible on the screenshots and photos on the right) and to give the old church the function of a memorial monument. See also the blog posts about the films A Foreign Affair and Octopussy in which the Memorial Church can also be seen.

Wings of Desire, 0:03:06
Gedächtniskirche, Berlin, 30 June 2019
Wings of Desire, 0:03:22
Gedächtniskirche, Berlin, 30 June 2019

From the showroom of a car dealer, Damiel makes Cassiel aware of a couple in love. At the intersection of Kurfürstendamm and Uhlandstraße is still a showroom of BMW at Kurfürstendamm 31. In the background is the Cinema Paris on Kurfürstendamm 211. In the movie Staatsanwälte küßt man nicht (original title: Legal Eagles) with Robert Redford is shown, during our visit it was Ein Becken voller Männer (original title: Le Grand Bain).

Wings of Desire, 0:03:22
Cinema Paris, Kurfürstendamm 211, Berlin, 30 June 2019

After a car and a motorcycle collided at the Langenscheidtbrücke in the Schöneberg district, the motorcyclist (Hans Martin Stier) sits injured on the street. Damiel comforts him by holding his head until a bystander offers help.

Wings of Desire, 0:36:04
Langenscheidtbrücke, Berlin, 4 July 2019
Wings of Desire, 0:36:38
Langenscheidtbrücke, Berlin, 4 July 2019

American actor Peter Falk (playing himself) has come to Berlin to film a movie. He walks through the city and is recognized as Columbo. He passes the Anhalter Bahnhof, part of the former railway station in the Kreuzberg district on Asketischer Platz. The area where Falk walks has been redeveloped. During our visit it was partly confiscated for an event.

Wings of Desire, 1:26:50
Anhalter Bahnhof, Berlin, 4 July 2019

Cassiel sits on the right wing of the statue of the goddess Victoria on top of the Siegessäule, built in 1873. Inside the column is a spiral staircase that, after payment, gives access to the observation deck at the foot of the statue.

Wings of Desire, 1:43:43
Siegessäule, Berlin, 28 June 2019
Wings of Desire, 1:43:44
Straße des 17. Juni seen from the Siegessäule,
Berlin, 28 June 2019

At night Marion has a meeting with Peter Falk at an 'Imbißstube'. The small cafetaria has disappeared, but the entrance to the underground station Güntzelstraße is still here.

Wings of Desire, 1:49:23
Güntzelstraße, Berlin, 1 July 2019

Screenshots © Road Movies Filmproduktion/Argos Films