Wim Wenders' Until The End Of The World was released in 1991. At the time, it was billed as the ultimate road movie but most critics were less than impressed. It went to video fairly quickly back then and promptly disappeared completely off the radar. I bought this Director's Cut DVD set the other day and thought I'd post my thoughts.
It has previously never been available on DVD until the release of this Director's Cut in Germany ONLY. Reading between the lines, I would guess that Wenders probably fell out with the distributor/other parties and so Germany was the only territory where a DVD release was possible. I bought my copy from Amazon Germany - http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00080SK...ASIN=B00080SK3G
- which wasn't too much of a problem even though the website lacked a "schnell" button! The DVD (movie) itself is in English (apart from a brief bit of French dialogue) although all the packaging is in German so the liner notes are a bit of a mystery.
The original film came in at just under three hours and the Director's Cut spans an eye-watering, neck-stiffening, dizziness-inducing and bladder-bursting five (5) hours. The film is, however, thoughtfully broken into three parts over three DVDs with one of the disks containing some "extras". One part a night is clearly the way to go.
Until The End Of The World is very much a slow-burn movie. I saw it on video in '92 and thought about it every now and then (kind of like an itch that wouldn't go away) which finally drove for me to look for it on Amazon 14 years later, and find this German version.
So, what about the new version of the film? Well, it's absolutely delightful, and I thoroughly recommend this Director's Cut DVD to anyone remotely interested in Wenders' work, science fiction films, road movies or off-beat romances. Out of the five hours, probably 20 minutes of footage is nonsense/could safely be lost (ooh, the outback jam session stinks), but this is a minor quibble.
For those not familiar with the film, set in 1999, it concerns a footloose and purposefully decadent French woman (Solveig Dommartin) who (literally) bumps into some Gaelic bank robbers, purloins a bag of cash, and by pure chance falls in love with a watery-eyed (from going blind, not watching the movie) American character played by William Hurt who leads her on a merry chase around the world. Hurt's character is traveling around the world wearing some old skool tech nerdy glasses that can record what he sees, via his brain, rather than his eyes. The glasses are sending him blind but he's doing it for his dear old mom, who's blind as a bat and wants to see something of the world before she dies from cancer. Meanwhile, a nuclear satellite is about to crash somewhere and start a third world war, oh, and some shadowy CIA types (as well as a couple of private detectives) are on Hurt's trail. Oops, nearly forgot the bank robbers are also in pursuit.
Those who are fans of dream-like visualizations of urban vistas (Lost in Translation, Code 46) will really enjoy the fantastic locations the characters move through. There's also some great looking futuristic computer props and some intriguing and funny search engines (remember, it was made in 1991!) that the characters use.
Anyway, all the characters end up in the Australian outback, where the image capturing technology is modified to record the wearer's dreams. This results in the protagonists being seduced into a sedentary existence where they lie around all day watching the recordings of their dreams from the night before. Whoah!
While it's undoubtedly a movie of some import, it is unfortunately somewhat marred by almost universally rubbish acting by all the characters. I think Wenders really mucked up the direction here. With so many stars, one would expect a few decent performances, but Sam Neill is really the only cast member who passes muster (oops, and the German PI as well). Australian actor Ernie Dingo plays it like a slapstick comedian, Max von Sydow thinks it's WWII submarine movie, William Hurt doesn't know what he's doing and Solveig Dommartin is intensely unlikable.
Strangely enough, the bad acting doesn't wreck the movie as it's more than strong enough to get by on its other merits. Check it out if you're into apocalyptic, beautifully filmed road movies with a mystical bent. Oh, I nearly forgot, the movie has an absolutely cracking soundtrack as well!