Four must-see documentaries by Wim Wenders

April 19, 2019

Wim Wenders never intended to become a filmmaker and perhaps that is what makes him one of the main references of auteur cinema: for being unpretentious and for having a deep curiosity for the world around him.

In his works as a documentary filmmaker he undertakes journeys to the internal universes of those artists who have influenced his own life. They are biographies and, at the same time, tributes and invitations to travel with their art and works, with their reflections. 

In GuideDoc we are pleased to present this 4 documentaries by Wim Wenders, probably one of the most interesting filmmakers of our time. 

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Pina (2011)



Pina is a tribute to the character and legacy of Pina Bausch, one of the most important contemporary dance choreographers of our time. 

One of the virtues that stands out of this documentary is that it was filmed with 3D cameras, precisely to transmit the kinetics, poetry and delicacy of each movement. 

There is no need for narratives here, the choreographer's biography is in each of the fragments of works that make up the film: the bodies speak for themselves and dance becomes a language in itself. 

The montage is also an exquisite play of rhythms, bodies, lights and shadows. 

More than a documentary, it is a spectacle of danced memories, of dancers and bodies that move not only on stages, because they also inhabit everyday life in the streets of Berlin.


Tokyo-Ga (1985)



This is a journey to Japan with Wim Wenders himself and, at the same time, a portrait of the world where Yasujiro Ozu was born, the mythical Japanese filmmaker who through his 54 films portrayed a traditional Japanese culture that, little by little, was being lost. 

This is the search for Ozu’s traces and the portrait of someone who is no longer there. To live in one's own skin rather than to understand what Ozu insisted so much on filming: the struggle between traditional Japan and modern Japan.

So Wenders encounters a modern Japan that he also portrays, his plastic food companies, his solitaire golf games, slot machines... something has been lost. He also meets the beloved actor who acted in most of Ozu's films, Chishu Ryu, and his inseparable cameraman.

Undoubtedly a delight to the nostalgic and an invaluable portrait of someone who is not there, but whose absence and legacy is so great that it is a presence in itself. Finally, Ozu's tomb, which Wenders also visits, reads 'Mu', wich means: nothing, empty.


Buena Vista Social Club (1999)



Under the reflective gaze of Wenders this film documents the reencounter and reconciliation of an important generation of Cuban musicians belonging to the so-called golden age of the 'trova', a genre that history had buried, leaving them and their music in oblivion. 

This film is important for its theme and for everything it generated in the lives of the characters, now older men and women. The documentary is also a tribute to the culture and musical legacy of the island.

The renowned composer Ry Cooder, who collaborated with Wenders in the soundtrack of his films and with whom he maintained a close relationship, had the initiative to travel to Cuba and wonder if those composers of the Cuban trovas that had permeated him so much were still alive. 

This is how the film develops: searching, finding, gathering and recording an album with these musicians who fortunately were still present. With this album, emblematic musicians such as Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo traveled and "came back to life". 

The result of this experience was a Grammy winning album entitled "Buena Vista Social Club", which refers to the title of the film. Undoubtedly a nostalgic work that is intertwined with the flavor and joy of Cuban culture.


The Salt of the Earth (2014)


A beautiful portrait of one of today's bravest and most admirable photographers: Brazilian Sebastião Salgado. With all the risks involved in portraying a photographer, Wenders embarks on this adventure with Sebastião's son, Juliano Salgado.

A photographer of adventures, of wars, of wounds and also of flowers that are born inside those wounds, of the ashes, and of the mourning. Salgado is an explorer of the world, of light and darkness in all its dimensions that brings us invaluable photographs from his long journeys. The image is a universe in itself. 

Sebastião has entered the most remote places in the world, the most isolated communities in the Andes and Latin America, painful wars in Africa, magical moments in Antarctica. His work is a portrait of the human race, with its destructive and luminous nature, and a profound and moving portrait of life.

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