The hands of Bruno Ganz and Peter Falk

I watched some episodes of “Columbo” as a child, but it was the Peter Falk of Wim Wenders’ breathtaking “Wings of Desire” that I recall, sad at Falk’s passing.  In the film, Peter Falk played himself, “Peter Falk,” come to Berlin to make a movie about the Holocaust.  In the clips on youtube, Falk (as “Falk”) politely puts off the media who want to interview him, complains to the costumer until he gets a decent hat, and draws a portrait of one of the extras on the fictional set.  He marvels at her face, and about the extras:

 ‎”Extras. These humans are extras. Extra humans.”

Later, “Falk” talks about drawing, the process of making a line, making art, being alive.  He says,

“Here, to smoke, have coffee. And if you do it together it’s fantastic. Or to draw: you know, you take a pencil and you make a dark line, then you make a light line and together it’s a good line. Or when your hands are cold, you rub them together, you see, that’s good, that feels good! There’s so many good things! But you’re not here – I’m here. I wish you were here. I wish you could talk to me. ‘Cause I’m a friend.”

After we realized we both loved “Wings of Desire,” a friend sent me the poem which runs through the film.  It’s beautiful, and so I am sharing it here. (Thanks, and RIP, Steve B.)

Song of Childhood

By Peter Handke

When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging,
wanted the brook to be a river,
the river to be a torrent,
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

When the child was a child,
It was the time for these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here, and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Is life under the sun not just a dream?
Is what I see and hear and smell
not just an illusion of a world before the world?
Given the facts of evil and people.
does evil really exist?
How can it be that I, who I am,
didn’t exist before I came to be,
and that, someday, I, who I am,
will no longer be who I am?

When the child was a child,
It choked on spinach, on peas, on rice pudding,
and on steamed cauliflower, 
and eats all of those now, and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child,
it awoke once in a strange bed,
and now does so again and again.
Many people, then, seemed beautiful,
and now only a few do, by sheer luck.

It had visualized a clear image of Paradise,
and now can at most guess,
could not conceive of nothingness,
and shudders today at the thought. 

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.

When the child was a child,
It was enough for it to eat an apple, … bread,
And so it is even now.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop, 
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.

When the child was a child,
It threw a stick like a lance against a tree,
And it quivers there still today.

And so, Mr. Falk, as the elderly Storyteller of the film says, at the final moment, “Nous sommes embarques!”

A fan back here is wishing on your wings, now returned to you.

5 thoughts on ““Nous Sommes Embarques”

  1. Hi, Rebecca!

    How rich and textural your web page is… just as you are. It is not that I expected less of you… but am so pleasantly surprised to see how many of my favorite things appear within your space. For example, Wings of Desire, Flak, and the wonderful poem woven throughout, which to me is Wenders masterpiece of contemporary German Expressionism.. Even your links with The Museum of Jurassic Technology caught my eye. What a hoot that is!

    Now my curiosity is peaked to explore your other links and recommended children’s books. Thank you, dear lady, for such a vibrant and interesting space for others to enjoy.


  2. Hey Rebecca,
    This movie is “mon film de chevet”. almost part of me. On a desert island he would be the one i should take if i could just take one. Since the first time i saw him, i’m still “embarqué”
    bien à vous,

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