Blu-ray: Highly Recommended
4.5 Stars out of 5
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Release Date: May 31st, 2016
Movie Release Year: 1974
Release Country: United States
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Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy

Review Date August 4th, 2016 by
Overview -

In the 1970s, Wim Wenders 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 as the director’s alter ego, Alice in the Cities, Wrong Move, and Kings of the Road are dramas of emotional transformation that follow their characters’ searches for themselves, all rendered with uncommon soulfulness and visual poetry.

  • Editors Note

    Wim Wenders is one of Germany's most iconic filmmakers, where in the 1970s, he made a trilogy of films that he dubbed 'The Road Trilogy', which consisted of 'Alice in the Cities', 'Wrong Move' and ended with 'Kings of the Road'. All of these films have long tracking shots with no dialogue in them that captured the delicate climate of Germany, where its people and government were still trying to figure things out from a past war. In each film, there is a character (usually played by Rudiger Vogler), who is on a road trip along Germany as he sets to discover the people, their lives, and even his own character's journey both physical and emotional. Criterion presents these three films with top notch video and audio presentations and a ton of extras.

OVERALL
Highly Recommended
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  • Editors Note

    Wim Wenders is one of Germany's most iconic filmmakers, where in the 1970s, he made a trilogy of films that he dubbed 'The Road Trilogy', which consisted of 'Alice in the Cities', 'Wrong Move' and ended with 'Kings of the Road'. All of these films have long tracking shots with no dialogue in them that captured the delicate climate of Germany, where its people and government were still trying to figure things out from a past war. In each film, there is a character (usually played by Rudiger Vogler), who is on a road trip along Germany as he sets to discover the people, their lives, and even his own character's journey both physical and emotional. Criterion presents these three films with top notch video and audio presentations and a ton of extras.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: Blu-ray
    3-Discs
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:393
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):1.66:1
    English Descriptive Audio: Alice in the Cities - German LPCM Mono
    Wrong Move and Kings of the Road - German DTS-HD MA 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions: English
    Special Features: 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 Move and Kings of the Road
    New interview with Wenders, directed and conducted by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
    New interviews with Vogler, Kreuzer, Rottländer, and actor 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
    More!
    PLUS: A book featuring essays on the films by filmmaker Allison Anders, author James Robison, and critic Nick Roddick
    Movie Studio: Criterion
    Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4.5 Stars out of 5

ALICE IN THE CITIES

In 'Alice in the Cities', which was made in 1974, a man named Phil Winter (Rudiger Vogler) is trying to enjoy the America he's always heard about and seen on television. Phil being from Germany and working as a reporter, specifically writing about America can't determine if he actually likes the United States as he travels up and down the East Coast, eventually coming to New York. Just like his uneven thoughts on America, Phil is fairly uneven himself and can't decide what he wants to do with his life, or even if he's looking for something new and different, which ultimately gets him fired from his job.

He heads to the airport to journey back to Germany where he meets a woman named Lisa (Elisabeth Kreuzer) and her daughter Alice (Yella Rottlander). The three hit it off for the most part, but Lisa suddenly leaves to confront an old flame, leaving Phil in charge of Alice, whom her and her mother were on their way to Germany as well. Alice and Phil take a plan to Amsterdam where it is understood that Lisa will meet them there, only she doesn't show up, leaving this man to look after a little girl, which has definitely turned his life upside down, but it may be just the jolt his life needs, as the unlikely duo adventure into  West Germany in search of Alice's grandmother. At first, Alice isn't so warm to Phil, but shortly the two form a bond in a very innocent way and they actually come to care for each other.

Not only was Alice looking for somebody to be her role model or connect with, but Phil was looking for that spark in his life that was non-existent, and never did he think that a child could lead him on a new path. As Phil and Alice explore the different cities in America and Europe, they look at how the different cultures and people celebrate their lives and customs, which in turn they take each of those experiences for each other. It's also interesting to not that Germany's political and social attitude at the time was still raw from the war, and Wim Wenders captures this perfectly in each character and theme in the film, while not being a politically charged movie at all.

Wim's long breathtaking shots of the different countrysides are beautiful and majestic and while there are long shots without dialogue, we just bask in the beauty of the characters and the scenery as they take their personal journeys. Vogler turns in a great performance, but Yella Rottlander as Alice is simply magnificent. She captures the young girl's innocence and adventure perfectly with a lot of adult themes. Even with a very low budget, Wim Wenders shows that filmmaking can be on a grand scale with dynamic characters and settings that truly inspire.


KINGS OF THE ROAD

'Kings of the Road' is a great road trip movie that actually won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1976. Movie buffs will also appreciate this film, because it follows a pair of guys, traveling in a van to repair movie projection equipment at old movie theaters across Germany. This is not your stereotypical road trip movie with two guys finding friendship, but rather about seeing the opposing sides and differences between the political and social climate of the time. It's a fantastic look at these two characters who are opposites that attract. The film follows Bruno (Rudiger Vogler) who travels in his van, repairing a ton of projection equipment in old, run-down movie theaters across Germany.

Bruno lives in his van as well and doesn't really desire the normal life with a house or wife, as he believes he is a free to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He comes across a man named Robert (Hanns Zischler), who has hit rock bottom with his job and the loss of his wife, and drives his car into the river in a suicide attempt. Bruno offers Robert to ride with him from movie theater to movie theater, which Robert accepts as the two hit the road in Germany.

The two are mostly silent as they take in the beautiful landscapes, filmed wonderfully by Wim Wenders, but the duo dive into their pasts to find out about each other in little spurts of information. Being this the time period of Germany, where the political system as left their citizens on the curb basically, Bruno and Robert come across some very quirky and interesting characters along the way, some of who are depressing and are just waiting to die, where others want something bigger and better.

Both Robert and Bruno have different way of thinking and beliefs, which culminates in the final act here where the two spend the night at a former military checkpoint, where the two characters clash in their own beliefs and interests. Wim Wenders wanted to show through this road trip and long shots of these characters taking in the scenery and other supporting roles that Germany's government and social environment was still taking a toll on everyone on both sides of the spectrum and country. The result is bittersweet and beautiful all at the same time.




WRONG MOVE

'Wrong Move' or 'The Wrong Move' or 'Wrong Movement', depending on where in the world you are is a fantastic yet depressing look at someone's journey to find themselves and who they want to be. Needless to say, we are our own worst enemy. This Wim Wenders film won a ton of awards at the German Film Awards in 1975, including Best Direction and Cinematography, amongst others. In true Wim Wenders fashion, there are some excellent long track shots without dialogue throughout the movie of the beautiful German locations and we see how the characters use the locations in their personal transformations, no matter if it goes in bad or good direction.

The film follows a young writer named Wilhelm (Rudiger Vogler), who sets out on a trip all over Germany in the 1970's to see new cities, cultures, and talk with interesting people to spark his new novel. It seems fun and easy enough to accomplish, but he comes across a few characters that initially seems innocent enough, but over time, becomes quite complicated. Wilhelm befriends a beautiful actress, and old man who has a speech problem, and a young girl who is mute.

The four more or less hit it off, and come across an Austrian man who says that his family has a big castle they can all stay at. Once they all arrive, they realize it's the wrong place, but the owner of the castle invites them in, because they saved his suicide attempt at the last moment. Here, things go southward for everyone involved with personal relationships getting in the way with one another as well as the political and social moods of the time. Germany was a divided country in the 1970s where most people were still trying to pick up the pieces of a war and didn't know what to exactly do.

Just like the country itself, Wilhelm has to figure out who and what he wants to be, and must travel to a remote and ironic location to find what he is searching for. Wenders captures the scenery very well here and even has a colder palette in the more depressing times in this film. In fact, out of this Road Trilogy, 'Wrong Move' is the darker one of the three, although it is just as important due to how we as people tend to sabotage our own happiness in fear of something different.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Wim Wenders' 'Road Trilogy' comes with three 50GB Blu-ray Discs from Criterion that are all Region A Locked. Each film has a separate cardboard case with spine #'s 814, 815, 816. There is a 48 page booklet with essays and technical information here. The booklet and all three films are housed in a cardboard sleeve with the spine # 813.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Blu-ray
    3-Discs
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:393
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.66:1
    Audio Formats:
    Alice in the Cities - German LPCM Mono
    Wrong Move and Kings of the Road - German DTS-HD MA 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English
    Special Features:
    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 Move and Kings of the Road
    New interview with Wenders, directed and conducted by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
    New interviews with Vogler, Kreuzer, Rottländer, and actor 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
    More!
    PLUS: A book featuring essays on the films by filmmaker Allison Anders, author James Robison, and critic Nick Roddick
    Movie Studio: Criterion
    Release Date: May 31st, 2016

Video Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

ALICE IN THE CITIES

'Alice in the Cities' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. According to the Criterion booklet, this is a new digital transfer that was created from the original 16mm negative and scanned in 4K resolution and color corrected in 2K resolution. Where certain sequences were heavily damaged in the 16mm negative, a 35mm duplicate negative replaced those certain segments. For a film that is over forty years old, this image looks impressive and great in 1080p.

The detail is fairly sharp for being shot in 16mm with good skin textures and stitching in the clothing showing up nicely. Being shot in 16mm and being black and white, the grain layer is heavy at times, but the overall appearance is natural and sticks to the original source. The colors are well balanced with natural blacks, grays, and whites throughout. There were no instances of any major scratches, warps, or dirt on this image as Criterion did a great job of manually removing these elements, leaving this video presentation with great marks.


KINGS OF THE ROAD

'Kings of the Road' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. According to the Criterion booklet, this film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio and is a new digital transfer that was created from the original 35mm negative and scanned in at 4K resolution. It was also color corrected in 4K resolution as well. This 40 year old film looks very good now that Criterion has restored the image and gives new life to Wim Wenders' filmmaking.

Closeups reveal some good detail in small amounts on the actor's faces and costumes and wider shots look better than ever here. Colors are very well-balanced with good looking blacks, whites, and different shades of grays. Prior releases of the film have all had some problems with dirt, flicker, jitter, and scratches, but with this new Criterion transfer, everything is fixed and looks amazing. Transitions looks great now and there are no stability issues or print damage, leaving this video presentation with great marks.


 WRONG MOVE

'Wrong Move' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. According to the Criterion Booklet, this film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio and is a new digital transfer from the original 35mm negative that was scanned in at 4K resolution. It was also color corrected in 4K resolution too. The film itself looks great. The detail is clear and vivid, particularly during the outdoor sequences where facial lines and makeup can be seen on the actor's faces.

The wardrobe also shows some of the intimate details in the stitching in closeups. Wide shots look gorgeous in the exterior shots as well, giving the film some excellent depth. There is a nice layer of grain that feels very organic as well. Colors look realistic, but have a cold palette to them. Nothing seems warm or inviting really here when talking about the color spectrum. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones look natural for the most part. There are no instances of any video noise, aliasing, banding, or any debris or scratches here, leaving this video presentation with great marks.

Audio Review

4 Stars out of 5

ALICE IN THE CITIES

This release comes with a German LPCM 1.0 mix with optional English subtitles. There are a few moments where the dialogue is English, but the rest is in German. The ambient noises and sound effects are full and add to the depth of this simple soundscape. The dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with the subtitles, and was free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and high shrills. There were some small moments where the sound was louder than other moments in the film, but it wasn't too distracting, leaving this audio presentation with good marks.


KINGS OF THE ROAD

This release comes with a great DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix in German with optional English subtitles. There are a few moments where the audio is in English. This new remastered audio track is excellent. Each sound and noise is clear and well defined. The sound effects and ambient noises are robust and easy to make out in each speaker. The music sounds great and never drowns out any other noise. The dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with the English subtitles. Lastly, there are no pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills here.


WRONG MOVE

This release comes with a good DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix in German with optional English subtitles. Overall, this audio mix is simple and a bit soft at times. Sound effects and ambient noises sound good here and layered, but don't pack much of a desired punch. The score is good, however it's more of in the background than anything memorable or pronounced. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with the English subtitles. There just isn't much pop to this audio track. There are also no pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills here.

Special Features

4.5 Stars out of 5

ALICE IN THE CITIES

Audio Commentary - This commentary track was recorded in 2005 and had Wim Wenders and actors Rudiger Vogler and Yella Rottlander discussing how the film was made, their characters, the style of the movie, the themes and tones, as well as the other actors in the film. This is full of information on the film and worth the listen.

Restoring Time (HD, 16 Mins.) - This is a small featurette that was made in 2015 that looks at the success and intention of the Wim Wenders Foundation, which is basically a collective of Wenders' work. There are interviews with Wim and others who are part of the Foundation here.

Interviews (HD, 28 Mins.) - These interviews are with the actors and actresses of the film as they discuss their characters, working with Wim, the film process and some behind the scenes information. This was made in 2016 for this release.

Outtakes (HD, 17 Mins.) - Here are some outtakes and B-Roll footage with the score from the film set in the background.

Short Films (HD, 47 Mins.) - These are two early short films made by Wim Wenders from 1967 and 1968. Each short film were restored in 2K. One film is called 'Same Player Shoots Again' and the other is titled 'Silver City Revisited'.

Criterion Booklet - This is a 48-page fully illustrated booklet with a few essays on all the films included in this set, along with cast, crew, and technical information on the discs.


KINGS OF THE ROAD

Audio Commentary - This commentary was recorded in 2005 and has Wim Wenders discussing how he shot the film in chronological order, the tone and themes to the film, and how the music was used. This is an excellent and informative commentary.

Interviews (HD, 32 Mins.) - These 2016 interviews are with actors Rudiger Vogler, Hanns Zischler, and Lisa Kreuzer as they discuss their time spent filming the movie and working with Wim.

Outtakes (HD, 22 Mins.) - Here are some outtakes and on set footage from the film with the score in the background.

Criterion Booklet - This is a 48-page fully illustrated booklet with a few essays on all the films included in this set, along with cast, crew, and technical information on the discs.


WRONG MOVE

Audio Commentary - This commentary was recorded in 2002 and has Wim Wenders discussing the nature of the shoot, the characters, themes, tones, and the relationships in the film. There is a great amount of information on the making of the movie here and is a great listen.

Three for the Road (HD, 75 Mins.) - This interview was recorded in 2016 for this release and has Wim talking about his career, life, films and collaborations and relationships with his crew and actors over his career. There is a generous portion of information he gives out about his friends and colleagues here as he discusses each film and the impact they've had on cinema.

Interviews (HD,22 Mins.) - These interviews were made in 2016 and has actors Rudiger Vogler and Lisa Kreuzer discussing their time on the film, working with Wim and the other actors and crew, as well as how Wim films those rare perfect shots. Worth the watch.

Super 8 Footage (SD, 5 Mins.) - Here is some of the Super 8 footage from the film that was taken with the score in the background.

Criterion Booklet - This is a 48-page fully illustrated booklet with a few essays on all the films included in this set, along with cast, crew, and technical information on the discs.

Final Thoughts

ALICE IN THE CITIES

'Alice in the Cities' is a fantastic and emotional journey of the film about an unlikely friendship and relationship between two lost souls. Wim Wenders' vision and camera eye is fresh for the time and looks beautiful throughout. This is one of those gems that gets lost in the abyss of cinema, but should be watched and discussed. The video and audio are both top notch and the extras are all worth watching. Highly Recommended!


KINGS OF THE ROAD

'Kings of the Road' is a must-see for any fan of film as these two gentlemen travel from one movie theater to the next in search of friendship and also to confront their past. There are some great genuine moments with some comedy here, all with the backdrop of Germany after the war. The visuals are stunning as well. The video and audio presentations are top notch and the extras are all worth your time. Highly Recommended!


WRONG MOVE

'Wrong Move' is a great film that follows a man on a road trip who tries to find himself and see who he really is on the outside as well as on the inside. Again, all of this takes place in Germany after the war, where political and social issues are still a sore subject. The film itself is beautiful and the characters are very well written. The video and audio presentations are both good and the extras are all worth watching. This one comes Highly Recommended!

Sale Price 60.19
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3rd Party 59
In Stock.
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  • Editors Note

    Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Blu-ray
    3-Discs
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:393
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.66:1
    Audio Formats:
    Alice in the Cities - German LPCM Mono
    Wrong Move and Kings of the Road - German DTS-HD MA 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English
    Special Features:
    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 Move and Kings of the Road
    New interview with Wenders, directed and conducted by filmmaker Michael Almereyda
    New interviews with Vogler, Kreuzer, Rottländer, and actor 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
    More!
    PLUS: A book featuring essays on the films by filmmaker Allison Anders, author James Robison, and critic Nick Roddick
    Movie Studio: Criterion
    Release Date: May 31st, 2016