I Found It At the Movies: 1976—Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders)


Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.

1976: Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders)

Why cinematographer Robby Müller isn’t more of a household name is beyond me. He’s responsible for five or six of the most beautiful films ever made. Dead ManAlice in the CitiesParis, TexasDown by LawBreaking the WavesThe American Friend, Kings of the Road… Okay, make that eight or nine!

I find that Müller has as great a sensitivity to nature as any cameraman that has ever worked in the medium. There’s a poetry to the way he frames the outdoors and a lyricism to the way he lets his camera slowly absorb images that is deep and elemental. And nowhere is his special gift so apparent, so affecting, as in this early Wenders road epic.  

This one demands patience, but if you can get hooked on its rhythms, it’s an incredibly moving tale of friendship, love and cinema. It’s also a definite desert island choice in these parts.  

What moviemakers can learn: As with anyone else, cinematographers have different strengths. Some are clearly stronger in urban settings. Others excel in the outdoors. Understand the different talents of your collaborators so that you can “cast” them properly, just as you do your actors.

Other contenders for 1976: This is yet another strong year, though there are a number of titles I still need to see. These include: Eric Rohmer’s The Marquise of O… and Jacques Rivette’s Noroît and Duelle. I need to revisit Sidney Lumet’s Network, as it’s a film I’ve struggled with in the past. From this year, though, I really like Roman Polanski’s The Tenant, Brian De Palma’s Carrie and Obsession and John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13. I love Alan Pakula’s All the President’s Men. And my closest runner-up is Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.

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