Until the End of the World

“1999 was the year the Indian Nuclear Satellite went out of control. No one knew where it might land. It soared above the ozone layer like a lethal bird of prey. The whole world was alarmed… Claire couldn’t care less. At the time, she was living her own nightmare. The same dream arrived each night. She was gliding over an unknown land, pleasantly at first, but then the gliding would turn into falling, the falling into panic, and then she’d wake up.”

Nice beginning, huh? Then throw in Max Von Sydow, Sam Neill and William Hurt dressed in 1940’s inspired clothing and a soundtrack of music specifically composed for the film — featuring, among others, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Talking Heads, U2 — and I was hooked…

Watching Wim Wenders movies make me feel like I do when I read a Paul Auster novel, vaguely superior for having done so. Regardless of my understanding of them.

The exception to the rule is Until the End of the World

1999 turned out to be less bleak than depicted. But the movie still feels like a memory — or a dream– that you can’t shake.

Filmed in 15 cities in seven countries and on four continents, this may be the ultimate road movie. The screenplay was written by Wenders and Peter Carey. Although I’ve heard that Solveig Dommartin, who plays Claire, the protagonist, had a hand in it. She was Wenders girlfriend at the time, but is uncredited as a writer on his website. Because they were denied rights to film in China, Wenders gave her a handheld digital camera and sent her on vacation. The resulting “video diary” (vlog?) is emailed and becomes part of the story of Claire’s adventures. (N.B. Ms. Dommartin died at age 45 in 2007.)

So if you need to pick an appropriate movie to watch on the day after Earth Day, you may want to settle in for the three hour visual feast, if you can find it.

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2 Responses to Until the End of the World

  1. Nick says:

    I went crazy trying to find this movie on DVD, and finally ended up downloading it. I absolutely love, love, love this movie. If anyone asks me my favorite movie, this is always it. For some reason this movie never gets any consideration when people discuss the best sci fi movies, but for me this is what I wanted to future to look like.
    Once again thanks for giving consideration to another overlooked classic.

  2. Nick, I have a copy on VHS (but no player…) Where did you download it?

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