Blu-ray, DVD Release: Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: May 31, 2016
Price: DVD $99.95, Blu-ray $99.95
Studio: Criterion

In the 1970s, Wim Wenders (The American Friend) was among the first true international breakthrough artists of the revolutionary New German Cinema, a filmmaker whose fascination with the physical landscapes and emotional contours of the open road proved to be universal. In the middle of that decade, Wenders embarked on a three-film journey that took him from the wide roads of Germany to the endless highways of the United States and back again. Starring Rüdiger Vogler (OSS 117 Lost in Rio) as the director’s alter ego, Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move, and Kings of the RoadWim Wenders: The Road Trilogy—are  dramas of emotional transformation that follow their characters’ searches for themselves, all rendered with uncommon soulfulness and visual poetry.

Alice in the Cities (1974)
The first of the road films that would come to define the career of Wim Wenders, Alice in the Cities is an emotionally generous and luminously shot journey. A German journalist (Rüdiger Vogler) is driving across the United States to research an article; it’s a disappointing trip, in which he is unable to truly connect with what he sees. Things change, however, when he is forced to take a young girl named Alice (Yella Rottländer) with him on his return trip to Germany, after her mother (Lisa Kreuzer, The American Friend)—whom he has just met—leaves the child in his care. Though they initially find themselves at odds, the pair begin to form an unlikely friendship.

Wim Wenders' 1975 film Wrong Move

Wim Wenders’ 1975 film Wrong Move

Wrong Move (1975)
Wim Wenders updates a late-eighteenth-century novel by Goethe with depth and style, transposing it to 1970s West Germany and giving us the story of an aimless writer (Rüdiger Vogler) who leaves his hometown to find himself and befriends a group of other travelers. Seeking inspiration to help him escape his creative funk, he instead discovers the limits of attempts to refashion one’s identity. Wrong Move features standout supporting performances from New German Cinema regulars Hanna Schygulla (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant) and Peter Kern and, in her first film appearance, Nastassja Kinski (Cat People).

Kings of the Road (1976)
A roving film projector repairman (Rüdiger Vogler) saves the life of a depressed psychologist (Hanns Zisschler) who has driven his Volkswagen into a river, and they end up on the road together, traveling from one rural German movie theater to another. Along the way, the two men, each running from his past, bond over their shared loneliness. Kings of the Road shot by Robby Müller and dedicated to Fritz Lang, is a love letter to the cinema, a moving and funny tale of male friendship, and a portrait of a country still haunted by war.

Criterion DVD and Blu-ray editions of the collection include the following:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfers of all three films, commissioned by the Wim Wenders Foundation and supervised by director Wim Wenders
    • Audio commentaries for all three films, featuring Wenders and actors Rüdiger Vogler, and Yella Rottländer on Alice in the Cities,and featuring Wenders on Wrong Moveand Kings of the Road
    • New interview with Wenders, directed and conducted by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
    • New interviews with Vogler, Kreuzer, Rottländer, and actors Hanna Schygulla and Hanns Zischler
    • Outtakes and Super 8 home movies
    • Restoring Time, a 2015 short about the restoration work done by the Wim Wenders Foundation
    • Same Player Shoots Again (1967) and Silver City Revisited (1968), two newly restored early short films by Wenders
    • New English subtitle translations
    • A book featuring essays on the films by filmmaker Allison Anders, author James Robison, and critic Nick Roddick


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.