As a young and aspiring filmmaker I remember seeing this film in 1975 and how it rang so true to my formative sensibilities. Robbie Mueller's tracking shots were a revelation not to mention the interplay between the journalist/photographer and young girl. This is when i started to know that the image rules in subtle ways. The land of television comes off badly, though.
Wim Wenders’ “Alice in the Cities” is about a disinterested togetherness between a German journalist (with a heart of a poet) in the middle of a creative block and a pre-adolescent girl who unexpectedly found herself in his care. It is also about a unique psychological atmosphere which is created by these two protagonists and which becomes the very style of the film – relaxed, tender, warm, more than just life. Thirdly, the film is about creative process when the object of creative effort is life itself. And, finally, it is about the geography of two cultures, American pre-globalist (and impulsively entrepreneurial) and European post-fascist (knowingly existential).
The girl is without any of the usual appealing, without any need for success with other characters (inside the film) or the audience. As a screen presence she is rather shocking for most American viewers. The guy’s creative authenticity can match Alice’s existential one. We see them in New-York and then during their meaningfully absurd trips throughout West Germany. The power of their existential encounter without any expectation of any advantage is strong because they leave life in peace. Only life left in peace can reward people with enlightenment.
The film shows that it is possible to feel together in the world without any sentimental ties. It depicts humanism in psychological action. “Alice…” is a film of moods when visual currents follow the music of emotions with freedom from conventions and strains. It is a film where Being is awakened to human life.