Wim Wenders (December 1, 1999) Part 1 of 2

Olivier Touraine introduces the lecture as the last of the Butterfly series. He recounts his experience working for Jean Nouvel, and Wender’s influence on Nouvel’s work. He discusses briefly how Wender’s films relate to the urban experience.

Wenders discusses how stories and histories relate to places. He illustrates differences and similarities between architecture and film. Wenders explains how filmmakers and architects are both in the storytelling business, and creates further relationships between these disciplines. Wenders relates his experience as a traveller and his attempts to explore and understand a place and the people who live there. He offers his earlier films as examples of these relationships, including Wings of Desire, and Buena Vista Social Club with Berlin and Havana, respectively.

Wenders describes the theme of the second part of his talk as “How Wrong Can You Go?” He discusses how his films relate to the future, and expresses his interest in science fiction. To illustrate this point, Wenders shows clips depicting locations including Berlin, Beijing, and Tokyo.

Wenders discusses how specific works of architecture have inspired his films. He offers Hans Scharoun’s Berlin State Library as an example. He discusses some of the ideas that led to the library’s inception, including the desire to encourage reading and love of literature.

Wenders discusses the topic of the No Man’s Land, citing examples such as Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz. Relating filmmaking to architecture, he asks how one creates a house, or a sense of place in movies. He suggests that the unplanned, unfulfilled, and empty spot is where a film enters people’s existence. Finally, he offers some advice to architects: to think about stories and histories first, before thinking about walls.

Wenders discusses the genesis of his current project in Los Angeles, The Million Dollar Hotel set in the historic Rosslyn Hotel. He then offers his thoughts on the appeal of science fiction. In response to another question from the audience, he addresses how digital technology is changing the role of the filmmaker. Finally, Wenders revisits the genesis of a specific scene in his film Paris, Texas.

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