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Lisbon Story

Modern Masters

Wim Wenders / Feature Narrative / Germany, Portugal / 1994 / 104 min / 35mm
In English, German, Portuguese / Arabic, English, Portuguese subtitles
Rated: Mature subject matter which may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.Individuals under the age of 15 are not admitted into cinemas.

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An exquisitely gentle film, on its surface Wim Wenders’s ‘Lisbon Story’ is the simple, meandering tale of Philip Winter, a sound recordist who travels to Lisbon to work on his friend Friedrich’s film. When Philip arrives, however, the film’s director is nowhere to be found. For three weeks, Philip wanders about, recording the sounds of the city; meeting a group of youngsters who are fascinated by his vocation, as well as the world-famous Portuguese musical group Madredeus, who are recording songs for Friedrich’s film.

But the film is a complex, powerful paean to filmmaking and a consideration of the perennial question: What is cinema? The film’s story revolves around a vacuum - the absent director and so the missing image – while the other elements swirl around it, waiting to offer support. These elements include sound (Philip’s recordings) and music (the work of Madredeus), but also various musings on the nature of cinema, including a wonderful monologue delivered by esteemed Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira in which he claims cinema as a tool of memory – even if memory is itself an illusion.

As well, Wenders inflects his films with reminders of other cinematic greats, from tributes to the physical humour of Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati to the suggestive image/sound combinations of Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann; from the existential doubts of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’ Avventura’ to the professional doubts of Federico Fellini’s ‘8 1/2’. In the end, ‘Lisbon Story’ is a film that offers great satisfaction by putting the ‘moving’ back in ‘moving image’.

About the Director

Wim Wenders was born in Düsseldorf in 1945 and studied Medicine and Philosophy in Freiburg and in his hometown, later studying Filmmaking in Munich. A major figure of the New German Cinema movement, Wenders’s significant output as a director includes ‘Alice in the Cities’ (1974), ‘The American Friend’ (1977), ‘The State of Things’ (1982, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival), ‘Paris, Texas’ (1984, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Festival de Cannes), ‘The End of Violence’ (1997) and ‘Buena Vista Social Club’, among many others.


Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders
Paulo Branco, Ulrich Felsberg, Wim Wenders
Peter Przygodda, Anne Schnee
Jürgen Knieper, Madredeus
Lisa Rinzler
Production Company
Madragoa Filmes
Rüdiger Vogler, Patrick Bauchau, Vasco Sequeira, Teresa Salgueiro, Manoel de Oliveira

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