Until the End of the World
|Until the End of the World|
|Directed by||Wim Wenders|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Peter Przygodda|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|158 minutes (US)|
179 minutes (Europe)
239 minutes (Japan)
280 minutes (Trilogy Cut)
287 minutes (Director's Cut)
Until the End of the World (French: Jusqu'au bout du monde; German: Bis ans Ende der Welt) is a 1991 science fiction drama film by German film director Wim Wenders. Set at the turn of the millennium in the shadow of a world-changing catastrophe, the film stars William Hurt and Solveig Dommartin, following their characters as they are pursued across the globe, in a plot involving a device to record memories.
The screenplay was written by Wenders and Peter Carey, from a story by Wenders and Dommartin. An initial draft of the screenplay was written by American filmmaker Michael Almereyda. The film has been released in several editions, ranging in length from 158 to 287 minutes. Wenders, whose career had been distinguished by his mastery of the road movie, intended this as the ultimate example of the genre.
In late 1999, an orbiting Indian nuclear satellite is out of control and predicted to re-enter the atmosphere, threatening unknown populated areas of the Earth. Mass populations trying to flee the likely impact sites cause a worldwide panic. Caught in a traffic jam and suffering from boredom, Claire Tourneur escapes the highway congestion by taking a side road. When she gets into a car crash with a pair of bank robbers, they enlist her to carry their stolen cash to Paris. Along the way, she meets a man who introduces himself as Trevor McPhee, and allows him to travel to Paris with her. He is being followed by an armed man named Burt who is working for some people whom Trevor has robbed. After reaching the house of her estranged lover, Eugene, Claire discovers that Trevor has stolen some of the money.
Claire then travels to Berlin and hires missing persons detective Phillip Winter to help her find Trevor through tracking his passport and credit card—he agrees to help when he finds out Trevor has a substantial bounty on his head; Burt is still shadowing Trevor. However, when Claire meets Trevor for lunch, she betrays Winter and attempts to escape with Trevor. Winter catches the two having sex in a hotel room, after which Trevor handcuffs them to the bed and escapes with more of Claire's money. Winter, Claire and Eugene meet in Moscow to continue the search, and find out from Moscow bounty hunters that Trevor is actually Sam Farber, wanted for stealing the prototype of a secret research project. Multiple government agencies and freelance bounty hunters are chasing him to recover the device. Winter quits the job, intimidated by the even larger bounty on Sam's head, but Eugene buys a tracking computer to help Claire. However, when the computer finds Sam's location, she leaves Eugene while she thinks he is sleeping.
Following Sam on the Trans-Siberian Railway, she travels through China and reaches Japan, where she rescues Winter from a botched capture attempt at a capsule hotel. She finds Sam at a pachinko parlor rapidly losing his eyesight, and buys them train tickets to a random mountain inn. There, Sam reveals that the stolen prototype belongs to his father, Henry Farber, and is a device for recording and translating brain impulses. He has been recording places and people around the world for his blind mother, Edith, but the recordings are exhausting his eyes. After the innkeeper heals Sam's eyes, he and Claire fly to San Francisco to take more recordings before heading to the Australian outback, where his father's laboratory is located.
Eugene, who had traveled to Japan only to be abandoned by Claire once again, teams up with Winter to capture Sam. Along with Chico (one of the bank robbers), they travel to Central Australia, but Eugene fights Sam upon finding him, causing both to get arrested. When Winter bails them out, they discover that the bag containing the camera was taken from Claire while she was drugged with sleeping pills. However, the bag also contains the original tracker attached to Claire's bank money, which Chico can trace. Claire and Sam take off in a small airplane to retrieve the camera. Chico, Winter and Eugene follow on land.
When the Indian nuclear satellite is shot down by the US government, the resulting NEMP effect wipes out all unshielded electronics worldwide. Claire and Sam are forced to land the plane when the engine quits. They walk across the desert until they find the camera with Sam's friend David. Reuniting with Eugene, Winter and Chico, they travel in hand-cranked diesel-powered jeeps to the lab, which is sheltered in a massive cave. Burt eventually arrives as well and everyone settles in to wait to see whether communications with the outside world will be restored.
Henry tries to synchronize the camera with Sam's memory in order to transmit clean images to Edith's brain, but Sam is injured and too tired to perform well. After father and son come to blows, Claire tries the experiment with her recordings to phenomenal success. It is revealed that Henry wishes to apply the technology to dream retrieval in order to win a Nobel Prize. However, Henry pushes too hard and Edith eventually dies of exhaustion. Eugene's writer's block seems to have been cured and he begins composing on an antique typewriter.
After Edith's death, Henry begins working on how to record human dreams. The Aborigines disagree with his goals and abandon him, so he experiments on himself, Claire, and Sam. They eventually become addicted to viewing their dreams on portable video screens. Eugene finds Claire curled up in a rock crevasse with her screen and takes her back to the village, driving her into painful withdrawal when he refuses to replace the batteries for her screen. He finishes the novel about her adventure and gives it to her, curing her of "the disease of images." Meanwhile, Sam wanders into the rocky desert labyrinths with his own screen and is ultimately rescued by the Aborigines. Henry is taken by the CIA while lying in the laboratory's dream-recording chair. Eugene and Claire leave the village together but break up for good. Later, Claire becomes an astronaut and spends her 30th birthday as an ecological observer, orbiting in a space station. Eugene, Winter and the bank robbers celebrate with her by singing "Happy Birthday" over a video fax.
- Solveig Dommartin as Claire Tourneur
- Eddy Mitchell as Raymond Monnet
- William Hurt as Sam Farber, alias Trevor McPhee
- Adelle Lutz as Makiko
- Ernie Dingo as Burt
- David Gulpilil as David
- Jimmy Little as Peter
- Sam Neill as Eugene Fitzpatrick
- Rüdiger Vogler as Philip Winter
- Max von Sydow as Henry Farber
- Jeanne Moreau as Edith Farber
- Chick Ortega as Chico Rémy
- Elena Smirnova as Krasikova
- Chishū Ryū as Mr. Mori
- Allen Garfield as Used-car dealer
- Lois Chiles as Elsa Farber
- Kuniko Miyake as Mrs. Mori
- Lauren Graham as Heidi
Wenders began working on the film as early as late 1977, from an idea conceived by him from his first visit to Australia and thought it will be the perfect setting for a science fiction film. In addition to fleshing out the complex plot, pre-production has also involved extensive still photography. It was not until Wenders found commercial success with Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas, however, that he was able to secure funding for the project. With around 22 million dollars worth of funding, more than he had spent on all of his previous films combined, Wenders set off on an ambitious production. Principal photography lasted 22 weeks and spanned 11 countries. The original version of the film ran 20 hours.
The Australian Film Finance Corporation invested $3.7 million in the film.
The imagery in the dream sequences were achieved with early high-definition video. Wenders and technicians at NHK (the only facility which could play back HD video at the time) worked for six weeks on these sequences, and intentionally distorted the imagery to create strange visual effects; often recording a fast-forwarded version of the image, then playing it back at normal speed.
Graeme Revell composed the theme and other music for the film. For additional music, Wenders commissioned original songs from several of his favorite recording artists, asking them to anticipate the kind of music they would be making a decade later, when the film was set. His desire to use all of these pieces contributed to his decision to make the film as long as it turned out to be.
The original edit of Until the End of the World was poorly received, and was both a critical and commercial failure. In the United States, the film was released by Warner Bros. in December 1991, on 4 screens. The U.S. box office gross was just under $830,000.
In January 1992, reviewing the shorter version of the film, Roger Ebert gave the film 2 stars out of 4, describing the film as lacking a "narrative urgency" required to sustain interest in the story, and that it furthermore "plays like a film that was photographed before it was written, and edited before it was completed". A documentary about the globe-trekking production would have likely been more interesting than the film itself, he said.
Later critics – some responding to Wenders' director's cut – were more favorable toward it.
The original version of the film ran 20 hours. Nevertheless, several shortened versions of the film have been commercially distributed or publicly screened. Wenders was contractually obligated by his backers to deliver a standard feature-length film, so he edited it into the 158- and 179-minute American and European cuts; Wenders referred to these as the "Reader's Digest" versions of the film. Meanwhile, he and his editor Peter Przygodda secretly made a complete copy of the film negatives for themselves at their own expense, and over the next year they worked on a 5-hour version of the film, then screened it at events across the country for over the next decade. A version similar to that shown at these screenings was released as a 280-minute trilogy.
A 4K digital restoration of the 287-minute director's cut was made in 2014 from the original Super 35mm camera negative, and was commissioned by the Wim Wenders Foundation and supervised by the director and his wife Donata, at ARRI Film & TV Services Berlin, with the support of the CNC. This version was screened for the first time in the U.S. at several art house theaters in the fall of 2015 as part of a retrospective tour of Wenders' filmography by Janus Films. This version was in two parts and has an intermission at 2 hours, 15 minutes. It debuted on Television in the U.S. on Turner Classic Movies in July 2017.
There is a 239-minute letter-boxed and subtitled laserdisc release from Japan, and there are several unauthorized fan edits that combine portions of the aforementioned releases.
In September 2019, The Criterion Collection announced a special edition Blu-ray and DVD of the film, featuring a 4K restoration of Wim Wenders' 287-minute cut, and was released on December 10, 2019.
Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack Until The End of the World was released December 1991, and includes the following tracks:
- "Opening Title" – Graeme Revell
- "Sax and Violins" – Talking Heads
- "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears" – Julee Cruise
- "Move with Me (Dub)" – Neneh Cherry
- "The Adversary" – Crime & the City Solution
- "What's Good" – Lou Reed
- "Last Night Sleep" – Can
- "Fretless" – R.E.M.
- "Days" – Elvis Costello
- "Claire's Theme" – Graeme Revell
- "(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World" – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
- "It Takes Time" – Patti Smith (with Fred Smith)
- "Death's Door" – Depeche Mode
- "Love Theme" – Graeme Revell
- "Calling All Angels" (Remix Version) – Jane Siberry with k.d. lang
- "Humans from Earth" – T-Bone Burnett
- "Sleeping in the Devil's Bed" – Daniel Lanois
- "Until the End of the World" – U2
- "Finale" – Graeme Revell
Additional songs were used in the film, but were not included on the soundtrack:
- "Trois Jeux d'enfants : Nze-nze-nze" performed by Aka Pygmies (Aka people) (from Centre Afrique: Anthologie de la musique des Pygmées Aka (Ocora C559012 13, 1987)
- "Blood of Eden", written and performed by Peter Gabriel; a different version, which features Sinead O'Connor, appears on his 1992 album Us, and was released as a single. The version in the film is only available on the CD single for the version released on Us.
- "Breakin' the Rules", written and performed by Robbie Robertson, also released on Robertson's album Storyville.
- "Lagoons", performed by Gondwanaland, also released on their album "Wide Skies"
- "Travelin' Light" performed by the Boulevard of Broken Dreams Orchestra
- "The Twist" performed by Chubby Checker
- "Summer Kisses, Winter Tears" performed by Elvis Presley
- "La Vieil Homme De La Mer" performed by Laurent Petitgand
The German film director Uli M Schueppel made a documentary film about the recording of "(I'll Love You) Till The End Of The World" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The film was released 1990 as The Song and re-released 2004 under a new arrangement.
- Wenders, Wim; Hagen, Charles (1991). "From The End Of The World To Smack Dab In The Middle: An Interview with Wim Wenders". Aperture. 123 (Spring 1991): 90–91. JSTOR 24472429.
- Staff (2019). "Until The End Of The World - directed by Wim Wenders - Germany / France / Australia 1991". DvdBeaver.com. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
- Bob Evans, "Our Piece of the Action", The Australian Financial Review, 18 October 1991, p. 33
- "14 films coming to Australia from the Toronto Film Festival". SBS (Australia). 25 September 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- "The Until The End Of The World soundtrack promised a hipper future". Film. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- "The Strange Case of Until the End of the World: CineSavant Archive Articles". Trailers From Hell. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- "Until the End of the World". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
- Ebert, Roger (17 January 1992). "Until the End of the World Movie Review (1992)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
- Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Welt) (1992), retrieved 5 December 2019
- Stewart-Ahn, Aaron (20 October 2015). "Wim Wenders: Looking back on the road ahead". Boing Boing. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- "Aaron Stewart-Ahn Talks His 25-Year Relationship with Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World". Talkhouse. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
- Hortn, Robert (1997). "Wim Wenders: On the Road Again". Film Comment. 33 (2): 3–7. JSTOR 43455258.
- "Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road". Janus Films. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
- "Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Welt) (1991) (Uncut) [PILF-7271]". LaserDisc Database. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
- Criterion Collection [@Criterion] (16 September 2019). "✨Announcing our December 2019 releases! bit.ly/CriterionDecember19✨" (Tweet). Retrieved 18 September 2019 – via Twitter.
- "Until the End of the World". Criterion Collection. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
- Until the End of the World at IMDb
- Until the End of the World at Rotten Tomatoes
- Until the End of the World at Box Office Mojo
- Official website
- Article on the imagery in the film
- Until the End of the World: The End of the Road an essay by Bilge Ebiri at The Criterion Collection
- The Sound of Yesterday’s Future: Notes on the Until the End of the World Soundtrack an essay by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the Criterion Collection
- Until the End of the World at the National Film and Sound Archive
- Until the End of the World at Oz Movies