Wings of Desire works with a terrific premise: an angel (Bruno Ganz) — lonely, tired and yearning to experience the spectrum of feelings and emotions felt by humans — gives up his immortality to live out his days as a man. (The plot may seem vaguely familiar to anyone who has seen the Nic Cage–Meg Ryan weepie City of Angels, a “remake” that retains about 0.5% of the original’s weighty charms.) Director Wim Wenders recruited Henri Alekan to shoot the film — the 77-year-old director of photography had worked with Jean Cocteau on La Belle et la Bête. They shot the few scenes depicting a human perspective in full color; the rest of the film (taking place in the world of angels) was presented in a rich sepia-toned monochrome — reportedly achieved by Alekan using an old silk stocking that once belonged to his mother as a camera filter.
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