Wings of Desire (1987)

Brief Intro

“Wings of Desire” (1987), directed by Wim Wenders, is a poetic exploration of Berlin through the eyes of angels. The film follows Damiel, an angel who becomes enamored with human life and experiences. This unique narrative blends the metaphysical with the mundane, creating a visually and emotionally captivating story.

Literary Devices Used in Wings of Desire

In “Wings of Desire,” various literary devices enhance the storytelling. Here are ten key devices with specific scenes where they are effectively used:

1. Symbolism

Movie SceneExample of Symbolism
Damiel’s contemplation at the Berlin WallThe Wall symbolizes division and longing.
Marion’s trapeze actThe trapeze symbolizes freedom and the precarious nature of human existence.

2. Metaphor

Movie SceneExample of Metaphor
Damiel watching over BerlinDamiel as a metaphor for hope and watchfulness.
Angels listening to human thoughtsRepresents the unseen forces that influence our lives.

3. Irony

Movie SceneExample of Irony
Damiel longing for human experiencesAn angel, a being of perfection, desiring flawed human life.
Peter Falk recognizing the angelsThe actor (playing himself) is more aware of the supernatural than the unaware humans.

4. Imagery

Movie SceneExample of Imagery
Opening scenes of BerlinVivid descriptions of the cityscape create a haunting visual.
Marion’s circus performanceRich visual imagery of her graceful movements.

5. Motif

Movie SceneExample of Motif
Recurrent black and white scenesRepresents the spiritual realm.
Recurrent color scenesDepicts the vibrant human world.

6. Allusion

Movie SceneExample of Allusion
Damiel quoting poetryReferences to Rilke’s poetry.
Marion reading “The Odyssey”Alludes to journeys and transformations.

7. Allegory

Movie SceneExample of Allegory
Damiel and Cassiel observing human lifeRepresents a larger narrative about human existence.
The circus settingAllegory for life’s spectacle and fragility.

8. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneExample of Juxtaposition
Black and white vs. color scenesContrasts spiritual and human experiences.
Silent observation vs. human interactionHighlights the difference between being and experiencing.

9. Internal Monologue

Movie SceneExample of Internal Monologue
Damiel’s thoughts about humanityProvides insight into his character and desires.
Human characters’ inner thoughtsReveals their deepest fears and hopes.

10. Stream of Consciousness

Movie SceneExample of Stream of Consciousness
Damiel’s reflectionsFlow of his thoughts offers a deep connection to his character.
Cassiel’s observationsReflects the ongoing thoughts of an eternal being.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies


Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismDamiel represents hope and the yearning for connection.
MetaphorHis angelic nature is a metaphor for purity and the desire for human flaws.


Literary DeviceExplanation
ImageryHer trapeze act creates vivid imagery of grace and freedom.
MotifHer longing for a connection reflects the recurring theme of isolation.


Literary DeviceExplanation
JuxtapositionHis contentment with angelic life contrasts with Damiel’s restlessness.
Internal MonologueHis thoughts provide insight into the eternal perspective of an angel.

Peter Falk

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyAs a human who can sense angels, he bridges the gap between worlds.
AllusionHis references to his own acting career blend reality with fiction.

Character Dynamics

The relationships between characters, especially between Damiel and Marion, and Damiel and Cassiel, drive the narrative. Damiel’s interactions with Marion reflect his desire for human connection, while his relationship with Cassiel highlights the conflict between duty and desire. These dynamics are explored through:

RelationshipLiterary DeviceExplanation
Damiel & MarionSymbolismTheir relationship symbolizes the bridge between the spiritual and human realms.
Damiel & CassielJuxtapositionTheir differing views on human life highlight the central conflict.

Thematic Analysis

Isolation and Connection

SymbolismThe Berlin Wall as a symbol of division.
ImageryVivid descriptions of solitary figures in the city.

The Human Experience

MetaphorAngels’ longing for human experiences as a metaphor for desire.
Internal MonologueProvides a window into the diverse experiences of humans.

Transformation and Redemption

AllegoryDamiel’s transformation into a human as an allegory for redemption.
MotifRecurrent themes of change and growth.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismColor vs. black and whiteEnhances the distinction between human and spiritual realms.
ImageryCinematographyVisual richness complements the film’s poetic imagery.
Internal MonologueSound designInner thoughts are given a voice, deepening character insight.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene: Damiel’s Decision to Become Human

  • Link: Watch on YouTube
  • Breakdown:
    • Literary Devices: Symbolism (color transition), Metaphor (embracing human flaws)
    • Cinematic Techniques: Use of color, close-up shots to capture emotion.

Scene: Marion’s Trapeze Performance

  • Link: Watch on YouTube
  • Breakdown:
    • Literary Devices: Imagery (graceful movements), Motif (freedom)
    • Cinematic Techniques: Fluid camera movements, dynamic lighting.


Let’s test your understanding with a fun quiz!

Quiz: Which Literary Device is it?

  1. Question: What literary device is used when Damiel watches over Berlin, representing hope and watchfulness?
  2. Question: What does the trapeze in Marion’s act symbolize?
    • A) Fear
    • B) Freedom
    • C) Isolation
    • Answer: B) Freedom
  3. Question: Which technique enhances the use of internal monologue in the film?
    • A) Cinematography
    • B) Sound design
    • C) Lighting
    • Answer: B) Sound design