Wim Wenders's THE STATE OF THINGS is a comically bleak look at the clash between the auteurist European filmmaking sensibility and the commercial Hollywood style, that mirrors its subject by being more of a private diary than a traditional narrative film.
German director Friedrich "Fritz" Munro (Patrick Bauchau) is in Portugal shooting his first American film, a low-budget science-fiction movie, when he learns that the company has run out of film. Fritz assures everyone that Gordon (Allen Garfield, billed here as Allen Goorwitz), the film's
producer, will come through with more money, but in the meantime the production shuts down. Fritz soon travels to L.A. to look for Gordon. He eventually finds him hiding out in a huge mobile home, and goes inside to talk to him. As they drive through the night, Gordon explains that he's on the run
from the loan sharks, who demanded their money back after they screened the film's rushes and saw that they were in black-and-white and that the film had no story.
THE STATE OF THINGS is a deeply personal work that came about as a result of the numerous interruptions of Wenders's trouble-plagued American debut HAMMETT (1982). While visiting friends in Lisbon who were working on Raul Ruiz's THE TERRITORY (1983), Wenders borrowed most of that film's cast and
crew and decided to quickly improvise and shoot a film that would be a comment on his difficulties in Hollywood. The film's poetic black-and-white photography is starkly beautiful, and Wenders's use of sound and music is as impressive as ever, but the conditions under which the film was made
accounts for its often self-indulgent, desultory quality, and the improvisations of the cast quickly become tiresome, apart from Samuel Fuller's robust performance as Fritz s grizzled Hollywood cameraman, and the mobile-home finale where Fritz rambles on about "life, death, images, and art," while
Gordon completely ignores him and sings a morose little ditty about Hollywood (written by Goorwitz/Garfield himself). The film is an existential study of the nature of creativity (Fritz echoes Wenders's preference for atmosphere and mood over plot and structure), and what it feels like to be a
stranger in a strange land (the L.A. scenes are shot like a sci-fi film, with alienated overhead shots of traffic, parking lots, fast-food restaurants and monolithic office buildings).
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- Released: 1982
- Rating: NR
- Review: Wim Wenders's THE STATE OF THINGS is a comically bleak look at the clash between the auteurist European filmmaking sensibility and the commercial Hollywood style, that mirrors its subject by being more of a private diary than a traditional narrative film.… (more)