The Brothers Skladanowsky

(aka A Trick of the Light, Wim Wenders, Germany, 1995)


A corny, naïve, childlike tribute to the invention of moving pictures, presented as a jerky, pantomimic pastiche of silent movie comedies – and all under the guiding hand of Wim Wenders, a director who in this era (mid ’90s) was best approached with great caution.

It does not sound promising. But The Brothers Skladanowsky is nothing short of a small miracle, and a ceaseless delight.

Wenders, collaborating with his students at the Munich Film School, combines two fanciful short stories about the little-known achievements of the Skladanowskys (which slightly predate those of the Lumière brothers) and a contemporary interview with the wiry, 91 year old Lucie Skladanowsky – who complains to the crew during the final credits: “Your film is not historically accurate!”

In retrospect, this was the project that managed to spin the ailing career of Wenders around and re-launch it in a much healthier direction.

MORE Wenders: The Blues, Buena Vista Social Club, The End of Violence, Hammett, Land of Plenty, The Million Dollar Hotel, Paris, Texas, Alice in the Cities, Wings of Desire

© Adrian Martin August 1996

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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