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Until the End of the World

So my DVD of Until the End of the World has arrived.

DVD case still in shrink wrap on a table

Because of travel plans over the next two weeks, I’m saving my first viewing until the week between xmas and new year’s. I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.

My excitement over this film’s re-release is in several parts.

1 / The circumstance of my first viewing

I saw it in a theater in Edinburgh the summer of 1992, when I was living in Scotland during a semester abroad in college. I was visiting an old friend who now lived there. We came out of the theater well after midnight. It had rained but now the sky was painfully clear, and shards of the Moon flickered in every stark puddle. But the real world was a dream and only the movie seemed real.

For the next few hours, beneath backlit castles, black towers, and a solstice sky that never quite got dark, we walked the city streets that bustled even in the middle of the crepuscular night, lost in our heated discussions and divagations. It possessed us both for days afterwards.

(And I instantly regretted not going back to see it again as soon as possible. By the time I returned to the States, it was no longer playing in the theaters there, and I had to wait what felt like a very long time for it to appear in the video stores.)

2 / The difficulty of finding it to rent, and its eventual, almost complete, vanishing act

I rented it on VHS many times over the next few years, but it rapidly grew more and more rare. And I never managed to buy a copy. So, soon, it became even more dreamlike than it already was.

3 / The soundtrack

I can’t even.

4 / The story itself

I instantly loved the rambling mystery of it, and how the story turned suddenly several times until I couldn’t quite classify it anymore. I found this sort of slightly surreal, polyphonic, even “slipstream,” storytelling extremely compelling. I still do, of course — but back then, I’d certainly never before seen a movie that was such a direct hit to so many of my preoccupations.

5 / The fact of not having seen it for a quarter century

I freely admit that the brute fact of its scarcity has caused its emotional value to skyrocket. Now that I’ve shelled out for the DVD, I have already been cautiously entertaining the grim possibility that the Suck Fairy will have visited its malign magic up on it, and after feverishly ripping open the case, I’ll find myself watching a rambling, messy piece of shit with mounting annoyance, irritation, betrayal, rage, nausea…

But sometimes, I still think I can play whole scenes in my head as if I had just watched it yesterday, and I really want to see how much of it is Wim Wender’s dream and how much of it is mine.