Monday, March 21, 2016

Alice in the Cities (1974)

Like many young artists, Wim Wenders started out by emulating “the old masters” as a crutch. By his own admission, he shot his early films as though he were John Cassavetes or Alfred Hitchcock. Alice in the Cities was Wenders’ deliberate attempt to make a film that was truly his own. It is fitting that he chose to do so through the medium of the Road Movie. It has been said that, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” and no genre better illustrates that than the Road Movie. I imagine Wenders to be much like Phil at the start of the film trying to force inspiration through stimulation, only to coming up continually empty handed. Even when Alice enters the picture, he is still primarily goal driven. Just as Wenders was intent on shaking loose the yolk of influence, Phil’s mission is to unburden himself of this little girl. Yet, at various moments, Phil forgets this mission and finds himself actually enjoying the presence of this small human. These are also the moments where Wenders’ cinema really comes the most to life. An original vision cannot be forced, it has to come naturally. Watching Alice in the Cities, we are privileged to witness an artist truly coming into his own.

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