I love it when movies have the ability to touch upon surprising emotions and thoughts, staying in our minds for longer than just a day or two. Now with this filmmaker that is not surprising at all. Meet Wim Wenders, a German cinema genius who understands the art of capturing beauty in simple moments. You might know him from Paris, Texas (old time favorite), a cinematic masterwork. But this time I want to talk about another less known cinema project in his oeuvre, the German-Portuguese production “Lisbon Story” (viagem a Lisboa) from 1994.
Why talk about this retro art-house movie now? Well, for one reason, our editorial team has moved to Lisbon, and we’re about to create our own Lisbon Story. But there is something else this ‘retro gem’ kindly reminds us of, something the fast-paced thrill seeker in today’s age should never forget. (I dare you to discover these insights for yourself)
So let’s dive into the main character, the sound engineer Winter. He finds himself in a most interesting time and place. He is waiting in Lisbon for his friend Monroe, a film director who invited him there to finish a film project, yet upon Winter’s arrival doesn’t respond to any of his messages. So he waits, and he waits, while wandering the narrow streets of Lisbon, showing us an intimate view on the city in 1994. Meanwhile, he makes friends with the famous (and genuine) music group Madredeus and falls in love with their charming singer Teresa Salgueiro (playing herself). Dialogues in this movie are mostly laughter and not so much talk (aren’t those the best), which is surprisingly entertaining about the movie.
So he waits, and he waits, while wandering the narrow streets of Lisbon, showing us an intimate, affectionate view on the city of 1994
The long wait of Winter for his friend Monroe made me think of John Lennon’s quote “Life is what happens while you make other plans”. Watching Lisbon Story, we find ourselves in a great moment of suspense, getting impatient even. We’re looking inside charmingly old, almost abandoned Lisbon buildings, where Winter fools around with his sound equipment. Beautiful, but where is this movie going? What is the main character getting at? What is his goal? This impatience withers away every time we’re drawn into the beauty of the simple (and quite funny) moments of this movie. Imagine Lisbon nights in the 90’s, where we’re drinking red wine and listening to Fado in small smokey cafe’s. Imagine a German sound engineer packed with equipment, all cozied up with a traditional Portuguese music-band, in a retro Lisbon tram that’s rattling down the hill. There is laughter, there is music, there are golden rays of sunlight beautifully captured by cinematographer Lisa Rinzler.
But my favorite moments are the scenes where we see the blushing Winter, who can’t seem to take his eyes of the Portuguese dark-haired beauty sitting or singing next to him.
It’s during the simple moments, when we forget our goals and enjoy our surroundings, that we actually start to live. This movie, with all of its affectionate imagery and sounds, is a kind and loving reminder to put down our “life plan” from time to time, and follow our childish curiosity.
So yes, this movie gives us a beautiful, deeper viewpoint on life, but also gives us the eyes of Wim Wenders on a city like Lisbon. Either you’re living in Lisbon or just visiting, watch this movie and start getting lost in the streets of a city that has so much to offer to all of your senses.
It’s during these moments when we forget our goals and enjoy our surroundings, that we actually start to live.
Now, before you jump from this page and try to stream or download this movie – spare yourself the long search. There is nothing digital out there. Nothing. Instead, try to find this beauty in a classic cinema store, or buy Lisbon Story here.