One of his most notable earlier films is Alice in the Cities (1974), a thoughtful and poignant road movie about a journalist named Philip Winter (Rüdiger Vogler) who ends up trying to help a little girl (Yella Rottländer) find her grandmother.
The film starts with Winter on an assignment in the US but he finds the experience dispiriting and ends up with a bout of writer’s block, only finding solace in taking polaroid photos.
When he decides to go home to Germany, a plane strike delays his flight and he meets up with a German woman and her daughter Alice (Rottlander), who are also stuck until normal service is resumed.
When Alice’s mother misses the flight and fails to appear in Amsterdam as planned, Winter finds himself responsible for the young girl and they both travel across Europe, trying to find Alice’s grandmother.
Driven by the charming chemistry between Vogler and Rottlander, it has a pleasingly meandering narrative and is free of the twee life lessons and sentimentality that could have crept in.
Shot in grainy black and white on 16mm by Wenders’s regular cinematographer Robby Muller, it is a captivating work that establishes themes which would surface in Wenders’ later films: alienation, lonlieness and a fascination with America.
The DVD has some solid extras which include:
- An exclusive interview with Wim Wenders by Mark Cousins
- Rare interviews with stars Rüdiger Vogler and Yella Rottländer
- A collectors booklet and photo galleries.
Alice and the Cities is out now on DVD from Axiom Films