During the 1970’s the Das neue Kino (The New Cinema) began in Germany. Most of the time Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog get all the credit for resurrecting German cinema. However, the credit is also due to the understated work of director Wim Wenders. With small, but beautiful films like Paris, Texas (1984) and Wings Of Desire (1987) Wenders acknowledges the worlds problems yet is always able to find and share a lust for life.
With Kings Of The Road, Wenders offers up a masterpiece which at the same time is a requiem for the cinema and a celebration of life. The film begins with a man taking the plunge, literally into a lake in a VW bug. Upon his emergence and return to land he is befriended by a traveling projector repairman. From that moment on begins a journey across Western Germany. It is interspersed with sweet moments like when the projector repairman attempts to pick up the ticket lady at a theater. Other moments are times of revelations about life such as when they encounter a man whose wife committed suicide by driving her car into a tree. The rest is filled with worn out projector rooms and wide open spaces filmed in gorgeous black and white. The open space paradoxically is beautiful and alluring, but simultaneously a cage that keeps the two men from living life.
The film has three key lines: 1. “There is no death, only life”, 2. “I am my history”, and 3. “Everything must change”. All very true and to truly have a lust for life one must believe in all three. As far as cinema goes, it has gone downhill since this film was made, but some of Wenders best work has been made since then. You can’t shut your eyes and say everything from now on will be terrible. You also cannot say that everything outside of the past few years is old and isn’t worth your time. Take a chance on Wenders and see this wonderful film.