Thanks to a friend of mine, I inherited a region-free DVD player and the German director’s cut 3-DVD set of “Until the End of the World.” This film by Wim Wenders is a no-longer-available in the U.S. 1991 sci-fi saga starring William Hurt, Solveig Dommartin and Sam Neill about a futuristic 1999 world with great technological advances in which the world may be about to end due to a malfunctioning nuclear satellite. Against this backdrop, three lovers tour the globe, for reasons involving a massive amount of stolen money and a mysterious invention which may allow the blind to see.
I don’t want to talk about this film’s plot too much because it’s not the movie’s strength. The film’s strengths are its performances, its ideas, the depiction of technology, the music, the locations, and the special effects. First, all the performances are good and draw the viewer in. Max Von Sydow and Jeanne Moreau are the best actors, performing their hearts out as an inventor and his blind wife. The main trio of actors (see above) are also good as characters whose motivations are somewhat mysterious.
The ideas of technology that can help the blind see and, later, allow the recording of dreams are rather stunning. In terms of general depiction of technology, you can find GPS’s, cell phones, video phones, and other devices which are indeed in use now. Illuminati coding was present in this film, as it was in Back to the Future II. Other classics such as Metropolis, and Things to Come also were the elite hinting at what the future what be like according to their plan.
The soundtrack features R.E.M., the Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Julee Cruise, Elvis Costello, U2, Peter Gabriel, K.D. Lang, and others performing music composed for the film. In the short version, you hear only parts of these songs but in this 280-minute director’s cut you hear the entire songs. The film also was shot on four continents in ten countries, which is a level of verisimilitude that I have never seen in a film. The special effects, which use then new high definition technology to show images that the blind can see as well as the recording of dreams, still amaze today. What’s it all about? I think the director is saying that technology is a wonderful thing but it’s bad to worship it or become too dependent on it.
Anyway, this film is supposed to come out on the Criterion collection and was rereleased in America in 2015. I can’t think of a better introduction to foreign cinema than this German classic (mostly in English though).. The short. 158-minute original release version on VHS and laserdisc was good, but of you get a chance to see the Director’s Cut. don’t miss it. It’ll change your life.