…As It Is in Heaven

The face of Solveig Dommartin. It filled the screen at the Museum of Modern Art in last night’s showing of Wings of Desire (1987), a film that means many things to many people, perhaps especially as a collection of unforgettable images made immortal in celluloid. Dommartin’s beauty is the essence of why I post “Indelible Film Images” on my blog – the radiant woman who it is impossible to take your eyes off of whenever she appears.

The first shot of Dommartin in the film: an angel flying toward us.

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Henri Alekan’s cinematography captures her glistening skin, as well as the light reflecting on Bruno Ganz’s hand – he tries to touch her even though, as an angel, he cannot.

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The “Six Bells Chime” concert scene is the film’s definitive example of desire. Solveig Dommartin dances as though moving through water, swimming and swaying through the thick waves of sound in the smoke-filled, dim-lit glow of the ballroom.

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The extreme close-up near the end of the film: a face for the entirety of the MoMA screen.

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In the end, as at the beginning: Dommartin defies gravity. She spins around and around on the rope that connects her from the ceiling – the sky/heavens above Berlin – down to the ground, where Bruno Ganz, the angel made mortal because of his love for this earthly woman, holds onto the rope. Dommartin is somewhere in between the two worlds, not quite angel but more than human.

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