Jump to content

The Wrong Move

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Wrong Move
DVD cover
Directed byWim Wenders
Screenplay byPeter Handke
Based onWilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
StarringRüdiger Vogler
Hanna Schygulla
Marianne Hoppe
Nastassja Kinski
Hans Christian Blech
Peter Kern
Ivan Desny
Lisa Kreuzer
CinematographyRobby Müller
Edited byPeter Przygodda
Music byJürgen Knieper
Distributed byAxiom Films (UK and Ireland)
Release date
  • 1975 (1975)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryWest Germany

The Wrong Move (German: Falsche Bewegung – "False Movement") is a 1975 German road movie directed by Wim Wenders. This was the second part of Wenders' "Road Movie trilogy" which included Alice in the Cities (1974) and Kings of the Road (1976).

With long carefully composed shots characteristic of Wenders' work, the story follows the wanderings of an aspiring young writer, Wilhelm Meister, as he explores his native country, encounters its people and starts defining his vocation. His thoughts are occasionally presented in voice-over. The work is a rough adaption of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1795-96 novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship,[1] an early example of the Bildungsroman[2] or novel of initiation.


Aiming to be a writer, Wilhelm leaves his mother and girlfriend in his home town of Glückstadt in the flat far north of Germany and sets out for Bonn. Changing trains at Hamburg, he notices a beautiful actress, Therese, and obtains her phone number. In his compartment are an older man, Laertes, who sometimes communicates by playing a harmonica, and a teen acrobat, Mignon, who appears to be mute. The pair have no money, so Wilhelm pays their fare and puts them up in his cheap hotel, where Therese joins them. Bernhard, an awkward Austrian who wants to be a poet, befriends the four. He says he has a rich uncle with a castle on a peak overlooking the Rhine, but when the five turn up it is the wrong place. Despite their error the owner welcomes them, because their arrival prevented him shooting himself; he says they can stay as long as they like.

However, tensions grow, for Wilhelm is not giving Therese the affection she wants, while Mignon signals her availability to him. Laertes disgusts Wilhelm by revealing his role in the Holocaust and his feeling guilt but not repentance. The owner of the castle then hangs himself, upon which the five leave hastily. Bernhard goes off alone, while Therese takes the other three to her small flat in Frankfurt, where the tensions grow worse. Leaving on his own, Wilhelm completes his symbolic journey by reaching one of the most southerly, highest and emptiest points in Germany, the summit of the Zugspitze.




Author Peter Handke adapted Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship for Wrong Move, marking his second collaboration with director Wim Wenders.

According to Wenders, although Wrong Move is based on Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, screenwriter Peter Handke did not use any of the book's dialogue and incorporated a minimal amount of its action, mainly borrowing its concept of a young man "on a journey of self-realization".[2] Wenders also toyed with the idea of whether such a journey would be a mistake, and hence Handke and Wenders made the film as a refutation of Goethe's novel and German Romanticism, in which their character suffers because of his travels.[2] Wenders also said that Wrong Move is about how to be able to grasp the world through language.[3]

Following The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty (1972), Wrong Move was Wenders' second film collaboration with his friend Handke, who was already a respected author. Handke wrote the screenplay two years after his mother had killed herself, which had deeply affected him and influenced the story's dark tone.[2]


Filming took place over the Elbe River.

The film was shot over four weeks, including from a helicopter over the Elbe River.[2] Landscape shots in the film were inspired by the 18th-century paintings of German artist Caspar David Friedrich.[4]

The film marks the debut of Nastassja Kinski, whom Wenders' wife discovered in a disco in Munich.[5] She appeared topless in Wrong Move, and was 12 years old at the time of filming.[5][6] Later she played one of the leading roles in Wenders' film Paris, Texas (1984), as well as appearing in his Faraway, So Close (1993).


On its international release, the title Falsche Bewegung proved challenging to render in English. The literal meaning is "False Movement", but in the United Kingdom it was released as The Wrong Move, while in the United States, it was titled The Wrong Movement.[7]

In 2016, The Criterion Collection released the film as Wrong Move on DVD and Blu-ray in Region 1. It was included with Alice in the Cities and Kings of the Road in the boxset Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy.[8]


Critical reception[edit]

Filmmaker Wim Wenders received the German Film Award for Best Direction for Wrong Move.

In 2008, Chris Petit of The Guardian said initial reaction to Wrong Move was that "it felt talky and clotted, but now looks among the best of the work and much more considered than the popular Wings of Desire (1987)".[9] Critic Richard Brody writes in The New Yorker that Wrong Move is one of Wenders' best films, calling it a virtual documentary of West German sights and moods.[1] Dave Kehr, writing for the Chicago Reader, states that "it's Wenders's most dour film, and the grim tone takes its toll. There is, though, a solid and disturbing talent at work here".[10] Jonathan Romney calls it "a film dense with philosophizing and speechifying, and the most thoroughly literary of all Wenders's films".[3] TV Guide states that Wrong Move is "engaging" because of Wenders' direction, in spite of its emotional distance and unsympathetic characters.[11]

However, Time Out wrote that Wrong Move was unusual for Wenders' filmography, finding fault in Handke's screenplay.[12] Evaluating how it fitted into the "Road Movie trilogy", The A.V. Club asserts "it's unlikely that anyone saw Wenders' next film, Wrong Move, as any sort of sequel to Alice, spiritual or otherwise". The A.V. Club goes on to suggest that in being "far uglier and more depressive than the trilogy’s bookends", it "perhaps serves as a necessary corrective to the other two films, suggesting as it does that there's no escaping one's own inner nature".[13]


Wrong Move competed for the Gold Hugo at the 1975 Chicago International Film Festival.[14] It also won several honours at the German Film Awards, marking the first of two times Peter Kern won an acting award at the ceremony.[15]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
German Film Awards 27 June 1975 Best Direction Wim Wenders Won [16]
Best Screenplay Peter Handke Won
Best Ensemble Performance Rüdiger Vogler, Hans Christian Blech, Hanna Schygulla, Nastassja Kinski, Peter Kern, Ivan Desny, Adolf Hansen, Marianne Hoppe, Lisa Kreuzer Won
Best Editing Peter Przygodda Won
Best Music Jürgen Knieper Won
Best Cinematography Robby Müller Won


  1. ^ a b Brady, Richard. "Wrong Move". The New Yorker. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Robison, James (1 June 2016). "Wrong Move: Utter Detachment, Utter Truth". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b Romney, Jonathan (15 April 2016). "Film of the Week: Wrong Move". Film Comment. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  4. ^ "The Wrong Move". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b Jenkins, David (6 February 2015). "Nastassja Kinski interview: 'I've had such low self-esteem'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  6. ^ Dollar, Steve (1 March 2015). "Fresh Takes on Director Wim Wenders". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  7. ^ Roddick, Nick (27 January 2010). "Paris, Texas: On the Road Again". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  8. ^ Sobczynski, Peter (1 June 2016). "On The Road Again: Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy Comes To Criterion Blu-Ray". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  9. ^ Petit, Chris (5 January 2008). "King of the road". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  10. ^ Kehr, Dave (8 November 1985). "The Wrong Move". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Wrong Move". TV Guide. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Wrong Movement". Time Out. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  13. ^ D'Angelo, Mike (28 May 2016). "Criterion offers a loose trilogy from Wim Wenders, king of the road movie". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Wrong Move (1975)". Calgary Cinematheque. March 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  15. ^ Roxborough, Scott (28 August 2015). "Austrian Actor Peter Kern, the Last of the 'Auteur Dinosaurs', Dies at 66". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Deutscher Filmpreis, 1975". Deutscher Filmpreis. Retrieved 9 June 2016.

External links[edit]