Alice in the Cities



IMDb Rating 8 10 9,743


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December 12, 2020



Wim Wenders as Man by Jukebox in American Cafe
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1.01 GB
German 2.0
23.976 fps
110 min
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1.88 GB
German 2.0
23.976 fps
110 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by howard.schumann 9 / 10 / 10

A sensitive and thoughtful film

Chance encounters that often seem purposeless may, upon reflection, turn out to be life changing experiences. Such is the case for German photographer Philip Winter (Rudiger Vogler) in Wim Wenders 1974 film Alice in the Cities, the first of three Wenders road pictures (Wrong Move, Kings of the Road). Traveling through the East Coast of America, Winter is overcome by lethargy and the monotony of the American landscape with its relentless vistas of billboards, chain motels, and fast food restaurants and has little interaction with his surroundings other than to take pictures as a detached observer. At one motel stop, he becomes so infuriated with commercials on television that he destroys the television set. Blocked in his attempt to write an article describing his journey, he decides to return to Germany but finds that the flights are delayed for a day. At the airport, he strikes up a conversation with a German woman (Lisa Kreuzer) and her nine-year old daughter Alice (Yella Rottländer) also trying to return home. The three share a hotel room and things seem routine until the mother inexplicably departs, leaving a note telling Winter to bring Alice to Amsterdam where she will meet them. The mother, however, does not arrive and Winter is left to care for Alice until relatives can be located. Their relationship, at first filled with resentment, gradually develops into one of trust as they drive together in a rented car trying to locate Alice's grandmother in Wuppertal and the cities of the Ruhr. Alice in the Cities is a sensitive and thoughtful film that suggests that everything in life has a purpose and that guidance is available if we remain open. The film mixes humor and pathos as the reluctant friends must contend with loneliness and alienation, themes often prevalent in Wenders' films. Rottländer's performance as Alice strikes just the right note. She is believable as the bright, feisty, and often charming little girl and her performance never crosses the line into sentimentality. As Winter slowly begins to see the time with her as an opportunity to embrace rather than as an obstacle to overcome, he finds that being responsible for another person can be transforming and that his quest is not so much for Alice's grandmother as for his own self.

Reviewed by SteveSkafte 10 / 10 / 10

the spaces between self-discovery

I might have been Alice. Or was I too fearful, too cared for, too lost in myself? Was I born at the wrong time? When I watch this film, I'm reminded of a line from another of director Wim Wenders' films: "Life is in colour, but black & white is more realistic". I'm still not sure if I believe that, but there are memories that seem more a thing of light and shadow than of colour. And this is, after all, a black & white film. "Alice in the Cities" is as much about its other main character, Philip Winter, as Alice herself. Him, I have been. Lost out on the highways of New Brunswick and Maine, lonely hotel holidays all by myself with no one to comfort or to talk with. I wanted to smash that television just as he does in an early scene, but it was my only companion through the long night ahead. "Alice in the Cities" is the first of three consecutive films by Wim Wenders about the open road, each starring Rüdiger Vogler as a similar, if not identical character. The second, "The Wrong Movement" (Falsche Bewegung) (1975), is an incredibly difficult slog of total human alienation. The third, and much better than the second film, "Kings of the Road" (Im Lauf der Zeit) (1976) is similar to this one, as Mr. Winter continues his journeys through the German countryside. This is a film about childhood relationships - not those we have with our peers, but those of a greater age. This makes perfect sense to me, as I would without fail seek out the company of an adult over the fleeting fancies of ones closer to me. To me, anything past fully grown would blur together, all except for the very old. Philip isn't comfortable with children, just as I have become over time. It is a hallmark of those who feel that they have never outgrown their own childhood, who feel so lost inside the adult world that the past feels foreign to a present that will never fit. Their belief that living in the future is futile keeps them grounded in today, their only salvation from a life spent dreaming. Reality is harsh in "Alice in the Cities". The release comes where life lives. The precious and precocious sensation of human interaction runs like a vein through the center of everything. This is a story suitable for anyone, not because it holds back, but because it is all in. In love with the very same world it fears, holding the hands of the same dream on whose feet it steps on. Like we all do in life. This film feels exactly like those first two or three years of your earliest memories. If you let it, you'll be taken further back than you'd have ever imagined.

Reviewed by two-rivers 10 / 10 / 10

A Journey from Paralysis into Light

A man around thirty, German journalist Philip Winters, travels alone in a rented car all over the States. He makes pictures with a Polaroid camera, which he wants to include in a story that he has to write for a publishing house. But the results of his photographic efforts do not correspond with what he believed to see when he took the pictures. And he does not even dare to assimilate his impressions into a written form. It seems, as if he keeps seeing nothing but the void, either the uniform monotony of always recurring urban landscapes on his lonely journeys or, in the single rooms of the motels, a television program that constantly reels off the same dull and dreary patterns. And how can you put emptiness into words? A silenced bewilderment has already become routine in the completely paralyzed life of a man, who only pities himself, and who apparently has lost all access to his fellow men. Therefore the girlfriend in New York, to whom he wants to unburden all his world-weariness can do nothing for him but show him the door, saying: "Nobody told me how to live either." So he forgot how to live, our very typical hero of modern times. But just as in a children's story rescue suddenly appears in the shape of a wondrous fairy, Philip Winters also has a surprising encounter, which will help him to determine his position in this world anew. The unexpected enlightening figure is a child, nine-year-old Alice. Her mother, whose acquaintance Philip had somehow forcibly made at the airport counter, has let her down, leaving behind a succinct message, in which she asks Winters to take provisionally charge of the girl until she will follow them to Amsterdam in a later airplane. The mother does not appear though, and thus Philip Winters does not have any other alternative but to go on looking after the child, a responsibility he most willingly would like to avoid. But Alice remains persistent, she scents the possibility of an exciting adventure. She mentions a grandmother, who possibly lives in Wuppertal, West Germany. Unwillingly Winters bows to his fate, but after a few abortive attempts he simply deposits her at a police station and goes to a Chuck Berry concert on his own. That could be the end of the story. But as I already mentioned, Alice is a fairy. And so she does not only come back, but also actually succeeds in getting a mechanism going in Philip Winters which seemed to be already dead and buried: the reference to the other one, the preparedness to get involved with his fellow creatures. At the end of the film he seems to be recovered, the train in which he and Alice are sitting, is obviously moving along on newly built tracks, the decisive switching of the points has been made. At least for the time being. For it is exactly in this hopeful and promising moment that we have to leave this wonderful movie. We are just allowed to throw another brief glance at the protagonist, who is sitting in the compartment joyfully united with Alice, a moment before the camera steps back and rises into the air, moving irresistibly away from the scene, until it depicts a vast panoramic view. But our eyes are still fixed on the train that hastens steadily through the immense landscape heading towards a destiny unknown.

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