Wings of Desire (1987) Script

When the child was a child, it walked with its arms swinging.

It wanted the stream to be a river, the river a torrent... and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child, it didn't know it was a child.

Everything was full of life, and all life was one.

When the child was a child, it had no opinion about anything.

It had no habits.

It often sat cross-legged, took off running... had a cowlick in its hair, and didn't pull a face... when photographed.


The consolation of lifting one's head out here in the open... of seeing the colours enlightened by the sun... in all men's eyes.

At last mad, no longer alone.

At last mad, at last redeemed. At last mad, at last at peace.

At last an internal light.

We're approaching Berlin Tegel, the no-smoking sign has been turned on.

Please stop smoking until you're inside the airport.

There's a little house with two floors and a terrace.

And every day we go bathing.

The man who lives there is called Peter...

Pretty picture.

Nothing good to see on TV.

You stumble over your colours, and are never punctual.

Still the same smell. But dustier. She collected everything.

Stamps, postcards.

Even U-Bahn tickets. She never threw anything away.

Mother. My mother. She never was.

My father... My father was my father.

She is dead. No tears, no grief. Maybe later.

Dependant on everybody. My sister. I have to get out of here.

She's never loved me. And you also just pretend.

Be glad that they forgot about you.

Want to die immediately, don't want to go on living.

My God, what will become of the boy? He's only got music on his mind.

What does he want now?

I already bought him a guitar. Does he wants drums now?

I'm slowly getting fed up with it. Won't he ever grow up?

No really, I'm getting fed up. I don't want to go on with this.

No really, this has to stop some time. I can't help him any more.

No wonder, he only learnt rock 'n' roll.

Maybe he'll get a grip on himself one day.

When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions:

Why am I me, and why not you?

Why am I here, and why not there?

When did time begin, and where does space end?

Isn't life under the sun just a dream?

Isn't what I see, hear and smell just a mirage of the world before the world?

Does evil actually exist, and people who are really evil?

How can it be that I, the one I am, wasn't there before I was there... and that some time I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am?

The child needs oxygen. Breathe deep down.

If I could only suffer in her place. It hurts.

It'll be over soon. It's almost over.

Poor little mite, I'm anxious to see you. I wonder what you look like.

You bastard. You bastard. Women will fuck up your life.

Blackie, I think I got lost. We wanted to go to the cemetery...


Sunrise at 7.22 am, sunset at 4.28 pm. Moonrise at 7.04 pm, moonset...

Level of the Havel and the Spree...

20 years ago today, a Soviet jet fighter crashed into the lakes at Spandau.

50 years ago, there were... The Olympic Games.

200 years ago, the first balloon flew over the city.

Like the fugitives the other day. And today...

Lilienthaler Chaussee: A man slows down... and looks over his shoulder into space.

Someone who wants to put an end to it... put first-issue stamps on his farewell letters.

A different one on each.

Then he spoke English with an American soldier... for the first time since his schooldays, fluently.

Just before dashing his head against the wall, a prisoner said: "Now."

Instead of the station's name, the guard... suddenly shouted: "Tierra del Fuego." Nice.

An old man was reading the Odyssey to a child... and the young listener stopped blinking his eyes.

And what do you have to tell?

A passer-by who, in the rain, folded her umbrella and was drenched.

A schoolboy who described to his teacher a fern growing... and the astounded teacher.

A blind woman, who groped her watch, feeling my presence.

It's great to live by the spirit, to testify for eternity... only what is spiritual in people's minds.

But sometimes I'm fed up with my spiritual existence... of forever hovering above.

I'd like to feel a weight in me... to end the infinity, and to tie me to earth.

I'd like at each step, each gust of wind... to be able to say: "Now, now and now."

No longer: "Forever" and "For eternity".

Sit at the empty place at a card table, be greeted... even by a nod.

Every time we participated, it was a pretence.

Wrestling, allowing a hip to be put out, in pretence... catching a fish in pretence.

In pretence, sitting at tables drinking and eating in pretence.

Having lambs roasted and wine served in the tents in the desert... only in pretence.

I don't have to beget a child or plant a tree... but it would be nice, coming home after a long day... to feed the cat like Philip Marlowe... to have a fever, blackened fingers from the newspaper.

To be excited not only by the mind, but by a meal.

By the line of a neck, by an ear.

To lie.

Through one's teeth.

As you're walking, to feel your bones moving along.

At last to guess instead of always knowing.

To be able to say: "Ah" and "Oh" and "Hey"... instead of: "Yes and amen." Yes.

To be able to enthuse for evil... to draw all the demons from the passers-by... and to chase them out into the world.

To be a savage.

Or to feel how it is to take off your shoes under the table... and to wriggle your toes, barefoot, like that...

Stay alone.

Let things happen. Keep serious.

We can only be savages in as much as we keep serious.

Do no more than look. Assemble, testify, preserve.

Remain spirit. Keep your distance. Keep your word.

Look, a convertible. You don't buy that, you steal it.

Or it's stolen from you. Imagine...

Open the roof, leave the smog behind. In a pimpmobile.

Tell me, muse, the storyteller... he who has been thrust to the edge of the world... both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal Everyman.

With time, those who listened to me became my readers.

They no longer sit in a circle, but apart... and one doesn't know anything about the other.

I'm an old man, with a broken voice... but the story still rises from the depths... and the slowly opened mouth... repeats it as clearly as it does powerfully.

A liturgy for which no one needs to be initiated... to the meaning of the words and sentences.

Maybe she doesn't have the money to see another doctor.

4 years since I saw her, she's been sick for 2.

When will you pray with your own words, and not for eternal life?

And then these young girls make eyes at men...

So why am I living? Why am I living?

How will I pay? With my small pension.

You're lost, it can go on for a long time.

Abandoned by parents, betrayed by wife.

Friend in another town, your children only recall your stutter.

You could hit yourself as you look in the mirror.

What's that? What's going on?

I'm still there. If I want it, if I only want it.

I must want it, then I can get out of it again.

I let myself go, I can drag myself out again.

Of course, mother was right.

Hey, two Marks. No, it's a beer top.

Nonsense, let's pull it up.

Only 10 Pfennigs.

" You bet?" was great last night. It wasn't on last night.

A few days ago, or a month...

I'm all alone, just mad on my own... three at play, that'll be the day.

5 years ago. And they lived happily ever after.

Marion, not like that. Mon dieu.

What is this? With a swing, not with force.

What are you doing? Don't dangle, fly.

You are an angel. For heaven's sake.

And for my sake, too.

I can't fly with these things. Yes, you can.

It's easier with wings than without. Not with these chicken feathers.

What did she say? These wings bother her.

Marion, just imagine you're a dove. You bunch of sparrows.

What are you playing at? Sounds like a firemen's ball.

That's enough. Concentrate, Marion.

She works hard with those chicken feathers.

Marion, make an effort. Make an effort.

Of course, I make an effort. What do you think I'm doing?

I'd have fallen on your heads long ago, if I didn't make an effort.

One moment, please.

Hold everything. We can't pay the rent and the electricity.

We're broke.

So tomorrow we'll take things down, pull the caravans to winter quarters.

The bailiff's been. This is it for the circus this year.

I'm sorry.

It's over. Not even a season.

Once again, no time to bring something to an end.

Tonight the last night of my good old number.

And it's a full moon.

And the trapeze artist comes tumbling down...

Tais-toi. Be quiet.

I never imagined it like that, the farewell to the circus.

The last evening, no one shows up, you play like fools... and I fly around the ring like a poor chicken.

And then I'm a waitress again. Merde.

Moments like that, like right now... a beautiful memory in 10 years time.

Time will heal everything, but what if time was the illness?

As if sometimes one had to lean over to go on living.

To live... A look is enough.

The circus... I'll miss it.

It's funny. It's the end, and I don't feel a thing.

An angel passes by.

I must stop having a bad conscience.

As if pain had no past.

It always stops when it's only just starting... to be too good to be true.

At last outside, in the city.

Find out who I am, who I have become.

Most of the time, I'm too aware to be sad.

I waited an eternity to hear a loving word.

Then I went abroad.

Someone who'd say: "I love you so much today."

That would be wonderful.

I look up and the world appears before my eyes... and fills my heart.

As a child, I wanted to live on an island.

A woman alone, gloriously alone.

Yes, that's it.

Everything so empty, incompatible.

Emptiness, fear.

La peur, la peur, la peur...


Like a small animal, lost in the woods.

Who are you? I don't know any more.

But I do know: I will no longer be a trapeze artist.

Must not cry. That's how it is.

It happens, not always as you'd like it.

Emptiness, such emptiness...

What shall I do?

Not think any more. Just be there.

Berlin... Here I'm a stranger, and yet it's all so familiar.

You can't get lost, you always end up at the Wall.

I'm waiting for my photo at a machine, and it comes out with another face.

That could be the beginning of a story.

The faces... I'd like to see faces.

Maybe I'll find a job as a waitress.

This evening scares me.

It's silly, fear makes me sick.

Only part of me worries, the other part doesn't believe in it.

How should I live? Maybe that's not the question.

How should I think?

I know so little. Maybe because I'm always just curious.

Sometimes I think so wrongly... because I'm thinking as if I was talking to someone else.

Inside closed eyes, close the eyes again.

Then even the stones come alive.

To be with the colours.

Les couleurs. The colours.

Neon lights in the evening sky, the red and yellow S-Bahn.

Longing... longing.

I only need to be ready.

Longing for a wave of love that would stir in me.

That's what makes me clumsy, the absence of desire.

Desire to love.

Desire to love.

Don't stare. Have you never seen anyone die?

I stink of gasoline. I can't just... It was all so clear.

The way they're standing there, staring at me.

I should have told her yesterday that I'm sorry...

I can't simply... I've still got so much to do...

As I came up the mountain out of the misty valley into the sun...

The fire on the cattle range, the potatoes in the ashes... the boathouse floating on the lake.

The Southern Cross. The Far East.

The Great North. The Wild West.

The Great Bear Lake. The Tristan de Cunha Island.

The Mississippi Delta. Stromboli.

The old houses of Charlottenburg. Albert Camus.

The morning light. The eyes of the child.

Swimming near the waterfall.

The spots of the first drops of rain. The sun.

The bread and wine. Hopping.

Easter. The veins of the leaves.

The blowing grass. The colours of the stones.

The pebbles on the stream's bed.

The white tablecloth outdoors.

The dream of the house in the house.

The dear one asleep in the next room.

The peaceful Sunday. The horizon.

The light from the room in the garden.

The night flight. Riding a bicycle with no hands.

The beautiful stranger.

My father.

My mother.

My wife.

My child.

The world seems to be sinking into dust, but I recount... as in the beginning... in my sing-song voice, which sustains me... saved by the tale from present troubles... and protected for the future.

Finished with the sweeping over the centuries as in the past.

Now I can think only day by day.

My heroes are no longer the warriors and kings... but the things of peace, one equal to the other.

The drying onions equal to the tree trunk crossing the marsh.

But no one has so far succeeded in singing an epic of peace.

What is wrong with peace that its inspiration doesn't endure... and that its story is hardly told?

Must I give up now?

If I do give up, then mankind will lose its storyteller.

And once mankind loses its storyteller... it will also lose its childhood.

I cannot find the Potsdamer Platz.

Here? This can't be it.

Potsdamer Platz, that's where Cafz Josti used to be.

In the afternoons, I went there to chat and to drink a coffee... and to watch the crowd.

Before that I smoked my cigar at Loese and Wolf... a renowned tobacconist.

Just across from here.

This can't be the Potsdamer Platz.

And no one whom you can ask.

It was a lively place. Tramways, horse-drawn carriages... and two cars: mine and that of the chocolate shop.

The Wertheim store was here, too.

And then suddenly, the flags appeared.


The whole Platz was covered with them.

And the people weren't friendly anymore... and the police wasn't either.

I will not give up... as long as I haven't found the Potsdamer Platz.

Where are my heroes? Where are you, my children?

Where are my own, the dull-witted... the original ones?

Name me, muse, the immortal singer... who, abandoned by his mortal audience... lost his voice.

He who, from angel of poetry that he was... became the organ grinder ignored or mocked... outside, on the threshold of no man's land.

20 Marks, 40 Marks, 80 Marks. In a week I could have 500.

Off to the south.

What a crazy idea to stand here. Too much traffic.

Idiot, three times he's been this way.

I want to get out of here.

If anyone recognises me, I'll be thrown out of secondary school.

I need Klaus, he'd take good care of me.

He was so good, too good. And now he's dead.

Are there still borders? More than ever.

Each street has its own border line.

Between each plot there's a no man's land strip... hidden by a hedge or by a ditch.

Who dares, will fall on booby traps... or be hit by laser beams.

The trout in the water are really torpedoes.

Every proprietor, or even tenant... sticks up his nameplate like a coat of arms... and studies the paper like a world leader.

The German people are divided into as many states as there are individuals.

And these small states are mobile.

Each one takes his own with him... and demands a toll when another wants to enter.

In the form of a fly in amber or a leather bottle.

So much for the border.

But one can only enter each state with the right passwords.

Today's German soul can only be conquered and governed... by he who arrives at each small state with the password.

Fortunately, no one is now able to do so.

So everyone migrates and raises his own flag all over the world.

Even their children shake their rattles... and trail their filth around in circles.

The medals reflect the best.

They were elegant, those brothers.

Could I have light? But no flame.

You're welcome. Thank you.

The only thing I shall miss from the outside... from the realm of light, will be sparrows.

Money buys happiness. How to live?

The Man in the Golden Helmet is a swindle.

You're not natives, you're all refugees.

You're wet from swimming.

I've been sitting here since this morning...

I'm so cold and bored.

Wind in the face, the first snow in the air.

Water in the gutter.

The balcony with the beautiful stranger.

Real ones. They look like it. They could be real ones.

Some stole food from the dogs in the camps.

That would take the grin off your face. Don't be too sure yet.

The Frenchman. I met him in the streets.

" Berlin won't be there any more," Constant said.

The house was half gone. Some of it still stood. For how long?

Yes, I can still see this woman... who was standing up there in the ruins shaking the duvet.

When was that? May... June 1945.

Is he good at what he's doing? It seems so.

I'd like to see it. Maybe he'll give it to me.

Come, I'll show you something else.

When the child was a child it choked on spinach, peas... rice pudding and steamed cauliflower... and now eats all of that, and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child, it woke up once in a strange bed... but now time and time again.

Many people seemed beautiful then, nowadays it's only the odd one.

It had a precise picture of Paradise, and now can only guess at it.

It couldn't imagine nothingness, and today shudders at the idea.

When the child was a child, it played with enthusiasm... and now it can only muster it when it concerns its work.

Do you recall our first visit here?

History had not yet begun.

We let mornings and evenings go by, and waited.

It took a long time for the river to find its bed and the stagnant water to flow.

Valley of the primeval river. One day, I still remember... the glacier melted and the icebergs drifted to the north.

A tree passed by, still green, with an empty bird's nest.

Only the fish had leapt over a myriad of years.

Then came the moment when the bees drowned.

Some time later, the two stags fought on the bank.

Then the flies and the antlers, like branches, flowing down the river.

All that ever grew again was grass... growing over the bodies of wild cats, wild boar and buffaloes.

One morning, out of the savannah, its forehead smeared with grass... appeared the biped, our image, so long awaited.

And its first word was a shout.

Was it "ah" or "oh", or was it merely a groan?

We were at last able to laugh, for the first time.

Through this man's shout and that of his followers, we learnt to speak.

A long story.

Sun, lightning, thunder in the sky... and below on earth, the firesides, the leaps... the round dances, the signs, the writing.

Then one broke through the cycle and ran straight ahead.

As long as he ran straight ahead, swerving sometimes perhaps from joy... he seemed free, and again we could laugh with him.

But then, suddenly, he ran zigzag, and stones flew.

With his flight began the history of wars. It is still going on.

But the story of the grass, the sun, the leaps and the shouts... is still going on, too.

Do you know how one day the road was built here... which the next day saw the Napoleon retreat... and was paved later on?

Today it is covered with grass and sunk in like a Roman road... with the tank tracks.

But we weren't even spectators. We've always been too few.

You really want... To conquer a history for myself.

What my timeless downward look has taught me...

I want to transmute, to sustain a glance... a short shout, a sour smell.

I've been outside long enough. Absent long enough.

Long enough out of the world. Let me enter the history of the world.

Or just hold an apple in my hand.

Look, those feathers, there on the water, already vanished.

Look, the tyre marks on the asphalt, and now the cigarette butt rolling.

The primeval river has dried up, and only today's raindrops still quiver.

Down with the world behind the world.

Only the Roman roads still lead somewhere... only the oldest traces lead anywhere.

Where is the top of the pass here?

Even the plains, even Berlin, has its hidden passes.

And it's only there that my country, the country of the tale, begins.

Why doesn't everyone see from childhood on... the passes, doors and crevices... on the ground and above in the sky.

If everyone saw them, there would be history without murder or war.

This time I'm doing it. Funny I'm so calm.

Why red socks with black shoes? Stupid.

Foggy, cold. Put on a pullover, afraid to be cold.

Very good jacket. A bargain. Just the pocket's torn.

She gave it to me.

Pebbles on the roof. Why? So it doesn't fly away? Nonsense.

Once I'd like to fly.

The plane circles over Berlin, one day it'll crash.

It's cold. My hands were always warm. A good sign.

It crackles underfoot. What time is it?

The sun's setting. Logical, the west. Now I know where the west is.

I always took the U-Bahn to the east to go home... bought 10 tickets, saved a Mark.

The sun in my back, on the left the star.

That's good: sun and a star. Her little feet.

Hopping from one foot to the other. She danced so sweetly.

We were all alone.

Has she got my letter? I don't want her to read it.

Berlin means nothing to me... Havel? Is that a lake?

Over there Wedding, or what? The East is everywhere really.

Strange people, they're shouting. I don't care.

All these thoughts. I'd really rather not think any more.

I'm going, why?

Leave me alone, you swine. Mother. Mother.

I'll never make it tonight. No trapeze on full-moon nights.

Not the last time, the very last time.

I should wake up from this dream.

The end of the circus. Fini.

And once again I feel as if night were falling inside of me.

Fear... Fear of death.

Why not death?

The essential at times... just being beautiful, and nothing more.

To look at oneself in the mirror is to see oneself think.

So what do you think?

I think I still have the right to be afraid, but not to talk about it.

You're not yet blind, the heart is still beating.

And now you're crying after all.

You'd like to cry like a very sad little girl.

Do you know why you're crying? For whom?

Not for me. I don't know for whom.

I'd like to know. I know nothing.

I'm a little bit afraid. It's gone, gone away. It'll come back.

It doesn't matter.

Just to be able to say, like right now, I'm happy.

I have a story, and I'll go on having one.

There it is again, this feeling of well-being... as if inside my body a hand was softly tightening.

When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions:

Why am I me, and why not you?

Why am I here, and why not there?

When did time begin, and where does space end?

Isn't life under the sun just a dream?

Isn't that Columbo? Don't think so.

Not with that moth-eaten coat. He wouldn't be out here.

Well? I'm going to enter the river.

An old human expression that I only understand today.

Now or never, moment of the ford.

But there is no other bank, there is only the river.

Into the ford of time, the ford of death.

We're not yet born, so let's descend.

To look is not to look from on high, but at eye-level.

First, I'll take a bath.

Then I'll be shaved by a Turkish barber... who will also massage me down to the fingertips.

Then I'll buy a newspaper and read it from the headlines to the horoscope.

On the first day, I'll only be served. For requests, ask the neighbour.

If someone stumbles over my legs, he'll apologise.

If pushed, I'll push back.

The bartender will find me an empty table.

A car will stop, and the mayor will give me a lift.

I'll be familiar to everyone, suspect to no one.

I won't say a word, will understand every language.

This will be my first day. But none of it will be true.

I'll take her in my arms, and she'll take me in her arms.

I think he's drunk. Yes.

Let's go.

It's got a taste.

Now I begin to understand.

Is that red? Yes.

Did you hurt yourself?

Is today a good day? It's okay.

And the pipes? They're yellow.

Yellow. What about him? He's grey-blue.

Grey-blue. This one? Purple.

This one? Orange. Ochre.

Ochre or orange? Ochre.

Yellow, red... this one? It's green.

And what's that over the eye? That's blue.


Is it very cold? It'll soon be over.

I'd love to have a coffee.

Do you have money? Yes... no.

I'm glad everything is fine today.


Coffee. With milk and sugar?


When the child was a child, it lived on apples and bread, that was enough.

And it is still that way.

When the child was a child, berries fell only like berries into its hand.

And they still do now.

Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw, and they still do now.

Atop each mountain it was longing for a higher mountain.

And in each city it was longing for a bigger city.

And it still does.

Reached in the treetop for the cherries... as excitedly as it still does today.

Was shy in front of strangers, and it still is.

Waited for the first snow, and still waits that way.

When the child was a child, it threw a stick like a lance into a tree.

And it's still quivering there today.

How do I get to Akazienstrasse? Go up Potsdamer to Kleistpark.

Right at Grunewald past Gleditsch, no right turn at Goltzstrasse.

Turn left, and there you are.

This entrance is for the crew. Extras, the other way, please.

Extra. That's just what you look like.

They all want autographs.

Lousy cop.

Come on, Marion. Don't worry. It'll be alright.

I'll send you a postcard of the Eiffel Tower.

See you next season. Don't forget the Alekan Circus.

Bye Archie, see you next year. Au revoir.

A thousand kisses.

I'll send you a parcel. With some Camembert cheese?

I couldn't say who I am. I don't have the slightest idea.

I am someone with no roots, no story, no country... and I like it that way.

I am here, I am free. I can imagine anything. It's all possible.

I only have to raise my eyes, and once again I become the world.

Now, in this very place... a feeling of happiness that I could always have.

What are you doing? I'm sitting.

Are you sad? No.

Are you sick? Yes.

What's the matter? A need.

Oh, that's it.

A double knot is the only way to make it hold.

A need. A need of food perhaps. Or a need of drink.

She isn't gone, Cassiel. I know it.

I'll find her.

Something will happen, something important, tonight.

She'll teach me everything.

There are other suns then the one up in the sky, Cassiel.

In the deep of the night, spring will begin today.

Other wings will grow in place of the old ones.

Wings that will at last astound me.

It must finally become serious.

I've often been alone, but I've never lived alone.

When I was with someone I was often happy... but at the same time it all seemed a coincidence.

These people were my parents, but it could have been others.

Why was the brown-eyed one my brother... and not the green-eyed boy on the opposite platform?

The taxi driver's daughter was my friend... but I might as well have put my arm around a horse's neck.

I was with a man, I was in love... and I might as well have left him there... and gone off with the stranger we met in the street.

Look at me, or don't.

Give me your hand, or don't.

No, don't give me your hand, and look away.

I think tonight is the new moon.

No night more peaceful.

No bloodshed in all the city.

I've never played with anyone and yet...

I never opened my eyes and thought: Now it's serious.

At last it's becoming serious.

So I've grown older.

Was I the only one who wasn't serious?

Is it our times that are not serious?

I've never been lonely, neither alone, nor with someone else.

But I would have liked to be lonely.

Loneliness means: I am whole at last.

Now I can say it, as tonight I'm lonely at last.

I must put an end to coincidence.

The new moon of decision.

I don't know if there is a destiny, but there is a decision.


Now we are the times.

Not only the whole town, the whole world is taking part in our decision.

Now we are more than the two of us. We incarnate something.

We are sitting on the People's Square... and the whole place is full of people whose dream is the same as ours.

We are deciding everybody's game.

I am ready. Now it's your turn.

You hold the game in your hand.

Now or never.

You need me. You will need me.

There is no greater story than ours, that of man and woman.

It will be a story of giants.

Invisible, transposable.

A story of new ancestors.

Look, my eyes.

They are the image of necessity... of the future of everyone in the place.

Last night I dreamt of a stranger.

Of my man.

Only with him could I be lonely... open up to him... wholly open, wholly for him... welcome him wholly into me... surround him with the labyrinth of shared happiness.

I know... it's you.

Something happened.

It is still going on. It binds me.

It was true at night, and it's true in the day, even more so now.

Who was who? I was in her and she was around me.

Who in the world can claim that he was ever together with another being?

I am together.

No mortal child was begot, only an immortal common image.

I learned astonishment that night.

She came to take me home, and I found home.

It happened once.

Once, and therefore forever.

The image that we created will be with me when I die.

I will have lived within it.

The amazement about the two of us, amazement about man and woman... has turned me into a human being.

I know now... what... no angel knows.

Name the men, women and children who will look for me... me, their storyteller, their cantor, their spokesman... because they need me more than anything in the world.

We have embarked.