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KINGS OF THE ROAD

Germany, 1976 (MIFF 1976)

Director: Wim Wenders

Two men cross the middle of Germany, from Luneburg to Hof along the East German frontier. Bruno travels in a moving van that he uses to camp in; he is a projectionist and repairs movie equipment. Along the Elbe he meets Robert, a child psychologist who, in a moment of sleepiness, has driven his car into the river. As Robert struggles ashore, Bruno offers him a towel and they strike up a friendship that lasts throughout their journey across Germany. Robert is running away from his troubles with women; he has split up with his wife and left her in Genoa. He calls her constantly on the telephone, apparently to reassure himself that she has not committed suicide. Bruno believes that a man ought to be able to live alone, but none-the-fess, he hopes that he might perhaps live with a woman. The two men travel from one small town to another across the wide, open spaces of North Germany, until Robert is finally able to come to a decision.

Wender's film continues the thematic developments of his two earlier pictures, Alice in the Cities (1973) and Wrong Movement (1974). Each of them takes up questions of personal escape and identity crises that mirror the past and present problems of Germany.

The magic of Kings of the Road lies in the cinematic conception. This is an American ‘road picture' in its most elemental form. It has the flavour of a Howard Hawks pic in the relationship of the two men to one another in an easy, unquestioning manner, but there are lines out to Fritz Lang and John Ford also in the tone and atmosphere of certain scenes.'

Holl, Variety

'The direction is, if not invisible, then transparent; the photography in gleaming black-and-white, is plain but powerful, both realistic and evocative. In short, the film has just those qualities that Wenders admires so much in John Ford.'

Richard Roud, Guardian

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