A noted film director
looks at America one moment at a time.
By Jean-Jacques Naudet
of such noted films as Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire, Wim
Wenders certainly understands the narrative power of the movies,
where life plays out in a seamless series of images. Wenders
is also a photographer, however, who has examined his own life
one moment at a time. 'Taking pictures," he writes in his
new book, Once (D.A.P., $25),
"is an act in time, in which something is snapped out of
its own time and transferred into a different kind of duration."
The book is a kind of diary, full of images and stories. It
has the charm of nostalgia and fragile memories. Wenders has
been taking pictures since the age of 7, a passion inherited
from his father. At 12 he got his own darkroom, and when he
turned 17 his father gave him his own Leica. 'I was crazy about
images, but I never thought of becoming a photographer,"
Wenders says, sitting in his home in Los Angeles. 'Doctor, architect,
director, musician-yes, but not photographer. It was a second
nature, not a job." Wenders later gave his Leica to his
wife, Donata, who is also a photographer and with whom Wenders
worked on his 1999 film, The Buena Vista Social Club.
also took photos for a companion book to the film. She prefers
black and white, while Wenders himself shoots in color. "'Donata
is a lot better than I am," he says. "'She's the professional
in the family." Nonetheless, Wenders says he was influenced
by some of photography's great names: Walker Evans most of all,
but also August Sander, Edward Steichen, and Joel Meyerowitz.
He is also a collector-Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastiao Salgado.
Wenders talks with great tenderness about two other film directors
who are also photographers: Alain Resnais and especially Chris
Marker. "Marker hates to be photographed," he says.
"One day, in Tokyo, I took his picture without him noticing
it. I was madly happy. I accidentally superimposed him over
a geisha holding an umbrella."
pictures are like landmarks. "I can't remember anything
except places,"' he says. "Places are what matter
most, in photography as well as in film. In fact, they are what
move stories." One place on his agenda this fall is Berlin,
where Wenders, a native of Duesseldorf, will have a retrospective
of his photos, titled "Pictures of the Surface of the Earth."
The German publisher Lothar Schirmer will publish the show's