What is the most daring risk you have taken

Wim Wenders reports on his death experiences

Wim Wenders (63) is the philosopher among German filmmakers. His works such as “Paris, Texas” or “Sky over Berlin” have received numerous international awards. Wenders himself is a sought-after guest at all major festivals.

“Palermo Shooting” had its world premiere this year in Cannes, and a few months later Wenders was jury president in Venice. In an interview with the German press agency dpa, the native of Düsseldorf talks about his new film, about death - and his experience with drug biscuits.

It is difficult to summarize the story of “Palermo Shooting” in a nutshell. Can you still try?

Wim Wenders: "Dennis Hopper embodies death and he says a sentence that hits you a lot when you think about it:" Death is an arrow that comes flying towards you from the future. "

Your film is full of meaningful sentences. Was it all in the script or did a lot come about during the shoot?

Wenders: “That was the great achievement of the shooting, to find out for ourselves too, what about death? How do we get over the fact that death is only there as a great enemy? How can we show death differently? Then death gradually became more and more tender and almost a brother figure. You believe death when at the end it says: "I love life more than anything else. Without me you wouldn't even know what you would have been alive with."

Have you already had your own death experiences?

Wenders: «I've already" died "twice in my life. Once as a little boy, I used to swim over the Rhine with my father on weekends. I was four or five years old and I was holding onto his shoulders or lying on his stomach. Once I slipped down and drowned. He dived for me and saved me from the depths. The second time, as a film student in Schwabing, I completely innocently ate 20 special cookies that were intended for a party, and each of which should only eat one at most. I'm the original cookie monster and there was just nothing else to eat with this guy. I ended up in the hospital and knew it was almost my last hour. "

Berlin, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Palermo - you are often inspired by cities and landscapes. Do you always drive around with the filmmaker's eye?

Wenders: “It would be devastating if you saw the whole world as a potential location and always had those glasses on. There are places that I'm very drawn to, but you can't always make a film in them. It becomes special when the feeling you get in a place meets a story. In Berlin it was the angels everywhere on houses and monuments who crossed with my idea for "Heaven over Berlin". »

What triggered this special feeling in Palermo?

Wenders: “Palermo has an affinity for death like no other city I know. The feast of death is celebrated there as big as Christmas is here. And when you walk through this city, you don't see angel figures like in Berlin, but skulls everywhere. This is a city where death is encountered in a different way and where life is also encountered differently. The city is incredibly funny and vital and knows a lot about death. "

Is Düsseldorf, the home of the photographer, then the place of superficial repression of death?

Wenders: “Düsseldorf has a certain affinity for parties. I can say that because I love the city dearly and because that's where I come from. Düsseldorf is a city that is relatively superficial. "

After many years in the USA, where is the center of your life now?

Wenders: “For a few years now I've lived more in Berlin than in America. That is a bit due to the bitter disappointment in the Bush era and also because I urgently wanted to make a film in Europe again after I haven't made a feature film here since 1992. Actually, I never intended to stay away that long. "

Clear spiritual messages like those in “Palermo Shooting” are rarely found in the entertainment society. Did you consciously take a risk?

Wenders: “You can only do that if you have a story. The film is similar to a thriller, there are also action scenes. In such a genre you can tell a thousand things, but you can only tell them too. You can't make a film about death like "The Seventh Seal" by Ingmar Bergman today. Perhaps it would be the most daring thing of all to make such a serious film about death. The story about the photographer, his lifestyle and his job - all of this serves the central question: Is it possible to think about death in other ways than just with fear?

Why did you cast the leading role of the top photographer with the punk singer Campino von den Toten Hosen?

Wenders: “Campino writes the songs for Die Toten Hosen. And the band has made two or three really good songs about death in the last few years. Then you stand there in Dortmund's Westfalenhalle and 20,000 people are singing songs that are basically only about the most important things - "What you live for" by Die Toten Hosen is one of those songs. In this respect, I definitely have allies in rock 'n' roll to think about such topics in films. And just like in rock 'n' roll, the cinema has to have the right drive, otherwise you can completely forget all the good lyrics. "

Interview: Karin Zintz, dpa