Wenders, Wim – The role of film in myth making
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
A View from Outside: An Interview with Wim Wenders - By Spencer Lewerenz
The works of many of the great filmmakers—Dreyer, Kieslowski, Bergman, etc.—have dealt with spirituality and religion. We don't see this as often in contemporary film, though. Do you agree, and if so, why do you think that is?
As much as I have come to respect (and prefer) the sobriety of Protestantism, I can still easily detect the romantic Catholic boy in myself.
Today's cinema is so much more entertainment-oriented than cinema in the past. People are made to believe that "going to the movies" is synonymous with "having fun." Well, there's nothing wrong with having fun, but unfortunately, for a whole generation other notions of cinema seem to be getting lost in the process. Films can be windows into the world, amazing discoveries of the physical world as well as of the psychological one. Then again, I'm an eternal optimist, so I believe that also those films that deal with religion, metaphysics, morals etc will find their place again in the future. Just because there's a need for that which won't be erased. The "digital cinema" of the future will again include all possible definitions of the seventh art.
I understand that you were raised Catholic, and at one point had considered becoming a priest. I wouldn't be the first to note that there are a staggering number of filmmakers with Catholic backgrounds—Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, Frank Capra, Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, Robert Altman, Leo McCarey, David Lynch, Brian DePalma, Andrei Tarkovsky, Lars Von Trier, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, Werner Herzog, Luis Bunuel, Federico Fellini, Jean Cocteau, Buster Keaton, Vittorio DeSica, Roman Polanski, and on and on. One could see how Catholics might be at home with the old filmmaking axiom "show, don't tell," since their sacraments, iconography, liturgy, etc., emphasize images and actions as signs of an unseen reality. Do you see your own Catholic background as having influenced your work?
Yes, sure. Catholicism is all about mysticism, imagery, imagination. It wouldn't be hard to guess that Bergman is a protestant... As much as I have come to respect (and prefer) the sobriety of Protestantism, I can still easily detect the romantic Catholic boy in myself. Anyway, I don't consider myself belonging to any denomination. As a Christian, I can go to a Catholic service or to a Baptist one. I've come to accept my Catholic "roots" and my Protestant tendencies as part of one and the same faith.