Director reflects on a life of play and realism

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Director reflects on a life of play and realism

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Wim Wenders in Korea. By Kim Hyung-soo

A prophet has no honor in his own country. German filmmaker Wim Wenders seconds that idea.
Mr. Wenders used the Biblical proverb as he explained the global acclaim that has been showered on his work and expressed gratitude toward his international fans.
“Maybe it’s because my films are not quite as German as most other German films,” he said, admitting that he is better known outside of Germany. “So, a director has no honor in his own country either.”
Mr. Wenders came to Seoul last week to participate in a film event that has been celebrating his work, which helped create the New German Cinema movement between 1960 and 1980.
Mr. Wenders, 61, has made over 30 films and six of them have won prizes at the Cannes, Berlin and Venice film festivals.
Out of his works, 10 of them, including “In the Course of Time” (1976), “Paris, Texas” (1984), “Wings of Desire” (1987), “Buena Vista Social Club” (1999) and “Don’t Come Knocking’’ (2005) will be playing during a retrospective in Seoul that takes place at the Sponge House theater in Jongno until next Wednesday.
After that the “Wim Wenders Special” will move on to Busan, Gwangju, Daegu and Daejeon, continuing its tour until May 9.
Mr. Wenders spent a considerable amount of time explaining why his films focus so much on American culture and social issues in the United States.
“I was very attracted to America from when I was a kid,” he began.
He said he grew up in post-war Germany, a “completely destroyed country,” that was “very grim” and “growing up there was rather boring.”
“For entertainment I read comic strips and they were American,” he said. “The music I liked was American. Movies were American. The novels I liked ― Tom Sawyer for example ― were American.”
At that time, America was a the promised land and he had to see it for himself. He lived there for 15 years.
“But of course, it’s no longer the ‘promised land’ for me,” he said. This change in perspective is apparent in two of his famous films, “In the Course of Time” and “Land of Plenty,” which reveal what America represents to him now, both as an object of criticism and affection.
“People say Americans have colonized the subconscious, but it also colonized our conscious selves as well,” he said.
In a humorous moment he also took aim at Korea.
“Everyone in Korea seems to drive in a nice big limousine,” he said. “If I were to make a movie now about Korea, I would write about people in big cars. And they would all be talking into their cellular phones trying to find a parking space,” he said. “And there will be a valet, who takes the key from the driver and drives off into the countryside.”


By Lee Min-a Staff Writer [mina@joongang.co.kr]

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