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Wim Wenders' "Until The End Of The World"
December 10, 2011 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Until the End of the World was conceived over most of the ’80s, filmed on four continents (including video smuggled out of China), and foresaw a future abetted by such diversions as mobile viewing devices, proto-GPS and a highly sought-after contraption that records images for the blind. Starring William Hurt, Sam Neill, Solveig Dommartin, Jeanne Moreau and Max von Sydow among an international ensemble of actors, the film also skyrocketed to a $23 million budget and found its distributors — including Warner Bros. in the United States — requiring cuts that reduced it to barely a quarter of Wenders’s original vision. Later locked in at just under five hours, it’s the type of material that today would be a shoo-in for a cable miniseries that could probably win Emmys for everyone involved. Twenty years on, however, it’s relatively lost to the mainstream, with Wenders’s directors cut as yet unreleased outside two territories in Europe.
posted by Trurl (50 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
For those unable or unwilling to deal with Region 2 DVDs, the director's cut is available in the usual hives of scum and villainy. As are the songs omitted from the official soundtrack and Graeme Revell's unreleased score.
posted by Trurl at 7:28 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


So ... I'm supposed to go to Mos Eisley if I want to see this?
posted by Avenger at 7:38 PM on December 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh man, thanks for this post. I love this movie and I'm waiting patiently for it to show up on DVD in North America. I'm still coming to grips with my wife's disposal of my VHS copy a few years ago.
posted by davebush at 7:42 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The director's cut is still the future I am waiting for and want to live in.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 7:44 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's out there and available if you're willing to look for it.

Oh, wait. It's right here! And available to me! Time to rewatch!
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have this on DVD but the PAL speed-up makes me crazy since I know the songs by heart (movies run at 25fps on PAL DVDs rather than the proper 24fps). I've been meaning to post on Ask.mefi for ages to see if anyone knows a good way to convert from 50i PAL to 24p, but I keep holding out hope for a Blu-ray. (I also have the U.S. and Japanese theatrical release versions, both on laserdisc, and at least those run at the correct speed.)
posted by Joey Bagels at 7:57 PM on December 10, 2011


I saw this movie in the theater. I started out loving it and ended by thinking I was going to die before it was over. So long. So slow. At some point I stopped being mesmerized and started losing my shit. I still remember that at Sam Neill's line, "And just when we thought it was finally over, we realized it had only just begun," there was an audible groan from the entire crowd at the theater. Because then there was a whole other movie!

Oh, Wim Wenders, you wacky nutty funster, you.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 7:58 PM on December 10, 2011 [20 favorites]


I guess seeing it in the theater would be tough, but I first saw it on video and I thought it was a pleasing surreal experience. This is the first I've heard, and I'm glad, that there's more. Come on. BD! BD! BD!
posted by CarlRossi at 8:01 PM on December 10, 2011


I'm the bear. The bounty bear. I can find him. Anywhere.
posted by zippy at 8:05 PM on December 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


I love this movie, and it has one of the greatest soundtracks of the '90s. I'll have to bug a certain close friend for a copy of the director's cut...
posted by mykescipark at 8:05 PM on December 10, 2011


I loved this movie when it came out, and I loved the memory of watching this movie. However, after downloading and watching it recently, I have to say it is deeply flawed - the pacing is terrible. It just doesn't work.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:07 PM on December 10, 2011


I've been meaning to post on Ask.mefi for ages to see if anyone knows a good way to convert from 50i PAL to 24p

I've used MPEG Streamclip to do framerate conversions before. I think Handbrake may also rip DVDs to a different framerate. And Toast will convert PAL to NTSC as part of the file conversion before burning.

Of those, I think only MPEG Streamclip isn't a Mac-only product.
posted by hippybear at 8:08 PM on December 10, 2011


Man, I love this movie.
posted by bardophile at 8:46 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is so 1991.
posted by stbalbach at 9:00 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every time I have watched this movie, I've fallen asleep.

Powerful stuff.
posted by swift at 9:06 PM on December 10, 2011


As much as I love the darn thing, I still call it Until The End of the Film.

That soundtrack did indeed give us one of the greatest movie soundtrack albums ever. Still can listen to it in order, still can get chills at all the right spots, and that cello is still beautiful.
posted by Spatch at 9:12 PM on December 10, 2011


Rumor has it that this film is going to be released as part of a slate (possible box set?) of Wenders films later this year by The Criterion Collection.
posted by theartandsound at 9:28 PM on December 10, 2011


Later this year? Like, in the next three weeks?
posted by kcds at 9:40 PM on December 10, 2011


I'll third the ownership of the Region 2 DVD. I've probably owned it for a decade, since it's been that long since I cheered at the exuberance of foreign DVDs and spent my internet salary on a Region-Free Philips DVD player and fed it Region 2 disks .(Yay, Farscape!)

The likelihood of any premium cable network broadcasting a 15 y.o, 4-1/2 hour film is low-to-none, even if Wenders died tomorrow and Sundance or Turner Classic Movies wanted to honor the greatness that he used to be.

Wenders really was prescient, wasn't he? I remember when he was the leading edge of a futurist/Utopian/Techno-European Cinema, after he had reinvigorated Film Noir with The American Friend. Then came his Berlin Cycle, his Cuban documentary and then that segment of that PBS show about the Blues.

My European Cinema car has been up a pole for more than a decade, but may have recently found a savior in Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Valhalla Rising, Bronson, Pusher 1-3).

(I have also come to the conclusion that Timur Bembetekov will never finish his Night Watch/Day Watch/Dusk Watch trilogy. Even if he did, the American money from Fox would screw it up the way that they messed up Until the End of the World.)
posted by vhsiv at 9:43 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I watched this once and afterwards I remember feeling like it had missing parts and yet it was sooo long.
posted by vicx at 9:45 PM on December 10, 2011


Amazon has the 2 hour and 38 minute version in their video on demand section. Rental is $3 and you can buy it for $10. I would love to see the full cut one day, but this version and the soundtrack CD are good for now.
posted by sciatica at 9:56 PM on December 10, 2011


Later this year? Like, in the next three weeks?

Oy vey. I meant late 2012. I've been in and out of movie theatres this weekend. My mind is a bit frazzled....
posted by theartandsound at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2011


I agree with KokuRyu. I remember watching the movie and trying to just ignore certain parts that just weren't good (when William Hurt gets beaten up in America, for example, the whole scene just doesn't work, bad stage punches, awkward acting). On the other hand, there are such perfect moments of film in Until the End of the World, perfect marriages between sound and image. The silence of the plane gliding over the outback, the ground moving closer, and Gabriel's Blood of Eden, it's a golden moment for me. Same as Dommartin's character screaming, "My heart, it is dead." Her voice, those words, she takes what could seem like an absurdity and makes it more real than just about anything else in the film.

I have such fond memories of the film, though I am hesitant to watch it again. Once in a while, I realize that there is no one I know who I could suggest that movie to, and I guess the world feels a little lonelier for that.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:04 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The silence of the plane gliding over the outback, the ground moving closer, and Gabriel's Blood of Eden, it's a golden moment for me.

My feelings exactly. I love that scene.
posted by davebush at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The silence of the plane gliding over the outback, the ground moving closer, and Gabriel's Blood of Eden, it's a golden moment for me.

My feelings exactly. I love that scene.
posted by davebush at 10:19 PM on December 10 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


Weird. I just had the most vivid memory of that scene. It's the part I remember as well, and that afterward, I feel like I spent months or longer trying to find out what the music was that played, not knowing it was the opening portion of Blood Of Eden.
posted by docpops at 10:41 PM on December 10, 2011


God the soundtrack to this movie was the end-all for me back then.
posted by Kloryne at 11:03 PM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The sad thing is that scene is so amazing, and then the song didn't make it onto the official soundtrack! But that crappy Depeche Mode song did!
posted by lefty lucky cat at 11:58 PM on December 10, 2011


I love some slow paced Japanese films, art films, foreign films, etc, but this movie, this movie can die in a slow agonizing way. I love his other films too, but god this movie was dreadful. I honestly can't see how anyone could like it. I'd sooner believe Transformers 3 is some deep hidden genius than this movie is anything other than a massive prank by Wenders. I wish i was joking.
posted by usagizero at 12:19 AM on December 11, 2011


Rumor has it that this film is going to be released as part of a slate (possible box set?) of Wenders films later this year by The Criterion Collection.

I want so very badly for this to be true.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:25 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the greatest underrepresented films of all time.

And yes, the soundtrack is still awesome to this day.
posted by cerulgalactus at 12:45 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rewatching the long version (I haven't seen the short version in years), I have to say to people who are complaining about the pacing and such that this really is a case where "more is less".

The 3-part really long version of the movie doesn't feel like it has pacing problems. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, but there's no moments of boredom or feeling like what you're watching is pointless or lacks focus.

Wenders says it's the definitive version of the story, and I have to say, it's beautifully made.

Thanks for making me drag this out and watch it again. Very cool.
posted by hippybear at 1:11 AM on December 11, 2011


The silence of the plane gliding over the outback, the ground moving closer, and Gabriel's Blood of Eden, it's a golden moment for me.

And where, IMHO the film should have ended.
posted by arha at 1:11 AM on December 11, 2011


> I still remember that at Sam Neill's line, "And just when we thought it was finally over, we realized it had only just begun," there was an audible groan from the entire crowd at the theater.

That happened where I saw it, too (Princess Court, Kingston, Ontario), but the way I remember it the line was "But Claire's story was just beginning," and it was, in fact, not long before the movie actually ended.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:15 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been looking for this for years. Glad to know I'm not the only one and hopeful for the Criterion Collection rumors to be true.
posted by meinvt at 6:21 AM on December 11, 2011


> I still remember that at Sam Neill's line, "And just when we thought it was finally over, we realized it had only just begun," there was an audible groan from the entire crowd at the theater.

I came here to tell EXACTLY the same story. I now like to think that that incident was repeated regularly in every art-house the movie played in.
posted by jeffen at 6:52 AM on December 11, 2011


I was excited to get the soundtrack because it had a "new" Talking Heads track, and if I remember right they had broken up by the time the soundtrack came out.

I seeing it on cable -- possibly USA Network but I don't really remember -- I liked that it had some cool "cyberpunk" type attributes (I was at the height of my fandom for Bruce Sterling and William Gibson) but the story was not getting it done.
posted by artlung at 7:13 AM on December 11, 2011


/I seeing it on cable/I remember seeing it on cable/
posted by artlung at 7:14 AM on December 11, 2011


Hm. If my 20 year old memory can be trusted, I saw this in a regular commercial theater in New York City where the audience made no audible protests of anything.

The idea of people disliking a Wenders movie for being slow reminds me of the person who observed that if anyone disliked Robert Rodriguez's Machete, they had no business going to see a movie called Machete.
posted by Trurl at 7:18 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


At every opportunity I use the Russian bear's "I'm searching. I'm looking". My wife loves it.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess seeing it in the theater would be tough

I could be biased because Until The End Of The World is one of my favorite movies ever, but it isn't, really, it wasn't for me, at least. I saw it twice in the theater and my memory is of small but mostly absorbed audiences. It isn't perfect; structurally, it's labored, the bank robbery subplot isn't ever really believable, Claire Tourneur, a little manic-pixie-ish, the whole thing (especially in its American theatrical release) is a loose, baggy, bounty bear. But in spite of all that, or maybe partly because of all that—and also because of the cast and the cinematography and the soundtrack—it's still (I think) one of the best science-fiction movies ever made.

Dommartin's performance of "Days," cut from the American theatrical version, is on YouTube here. It still breaks my heart that she died so young.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:29 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh Until is still my favourite movie, has been for years! Wish to thank Trurl for posting this, as I now know there is a 3 dvd version of it and I will certainly first find it in the "den of vice" of the net, but also certainly will buy the dvd box set, in hope a blu-ray remastered version exists or will exist.

People who might like it, but don't know if its worth their time - if you like a dystopic cyber world without the punk portion, but with a distinct vintage-but-not-steampunk flavour, full of stylish electronic gadget that actually are of some realworld use, displayed in an on-the-road movie that will bring you to a number of continents in locations you quite likely never have visited, filmed in at least 3 languages, then this movie is for you.
posted by elpapacito at 11:34 AM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I first encountered the Mosaic throbber, the first thing I thought of was the bounty bear.
posted by drinkcoffee at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2011


One of my very favorite movies of all time (and I, too, often imitate the bounty bear, though nobody ever knows what I'm talking about when I do).

I think my favorite character in UTEOTW is Philip Winter--the world-weary, only-semi competent bounty hunter. Rudiger Vogler is really one of the great underrated character (if one dares call him that) actors. Also, he was the main actor in Alice in the Cities (my second favorite Wenders movie).


Also, GPS! (You're. Leaving. the. road. Clair. Good. Luck. Clair)
internet detectives!
brain scans to reconstruct vision and dreams!
posted by Chrischris at 7:57 PM on December 11, 2011


I saw this movie in the theatre as well. It was beautiful but oh so long (really two movies in one).

The futuristic predictions were a bit annoying because in 1992 they were basically showing all these high-tech gadgets being old hat in 1999. I think if you want to make a movie about the future you should at least make more than 7 years out. Maybe those things are starting to come true now but not in 1999.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 8:35 PM on December 11, 2011


Never seen the film, but would like to. Bought the soundtrack CD mainly because of the Jane Siberry & k.d. lang duet "Calling All Angels," which is a truly amazing, amazing song.
posted by dnash at 8:36 AM on December 12, 2011


Finally pulled out my DVDs. I am delighted to report that in Premiere Pro CS5, dragging the 25fps VOB files onto a 23.976fps timeline and then reducing the speed of the clips to 96 percent seems to do the trick. No noticeable motion artifacts introduced in the program view, music is now playing at the proper speed and pitch. I assume I can use this technique to create a new file that can be played back on a HTPC or burned to a DVD (using Adobe Encore, I guess).

Looks like I know what my computer is doing overnight.
posted by Joey Bagels at 4:02 PM on December 12, 2011


Is there a list somewhere of the songs not included on the Original Soundtrack so that I can look for them on Grooveshark?
posted by humboldt32 at 12:29 PM on December 14, 2011


The Wikipedia soundtrack page has a nice list of non-soundtrack music. I don't know how complete it is.
posted by artlung at 2:22 PM on December 14, 2011


I remember watching this film with my younger sister and whatever girlfriend I was dating at the time when my parents were out of town. I'd picked it based on the soundtrack alone.

I remember us my sister and I cheering out loud, fists clenched in the air, victory lap around the coffee table when it was finally over (we watched a 2:30+ version on VHS, and I want to say that there were multiple tapes involved) and that she got to pick movies for like two months. I don't remember which girlfriend it was, but I do remember that somewhere in the middle she said "fuck this," and left.
posted by togdon at 8:12 PM on December 14, 2011


If people think this movie is slow-moving, I'd hate to think what they'd feel about watching Tokyo Story.
posted by winna at 5:01 AM on December 21, 2011


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