Beyond the Clouds (1995)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Romance

Beyond the Clouds (1995) Poster

Made of four short tales, linked by a story filmed by Wim Wenders. Taking place in Ferrara, Portofino, Aix en Provence and Paris, each story, which always a woman as the crux of the story, ... See full summary »


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17 December 2000 | burneyfan
Beyond reality
SPOILER: After the ecstatic reviews it received in the press, I found this film

disappointing. I can only imagine that the critics were being kind to an

ill, old man of 82 and overly respectful of the reputation of a once

great film director. Visually it is very attractive with beautiful shots of a lakeside

village and very atmospheric and poetic shots of alleyways and streets

in rain and mist. But when it comes to the actions and motivations of

the people in the film it is a let-down. I like to be able to believe in

and identify with the characters in a film and I couldn't do that here.

There are four stories in the film and I will mention only two - the two

that seem to me the most trite and pointless.

The first story stars two extremely good-looking newcomers to the screen

(Kim Rossi Stuart & Ines Sastre.) He stops his car to ask her the way to the nearest hotel, and because he

is so good-looking she gives him the name of her hotel. They see each

other during the day and when they retire to their rooms at night across

the landing from each other, she lies awake waiting for the knock on the

door that never comes. In the morning she leaves early without seeing

him. It is two years before they see each other again and this time

their relationship progresses a little further - they get to be naked on

the bed together. But he behaves in a very odd way indeed; for some five

minutes he runs his hands over her body within a millimetre of her skin

but without actually touching her. What she thinks is going on as she

lies there passively, feeling nothing, is anybody's guess. Then after

five minutes, still without having touched her, he gets up abruptly and

without speaking a word leaves. Is that the action of a sane man? You

wonder why he bothered to take his clothes off if he intended to do so

little. She, presumably feeling hurt and frustrated, rushes to the

window to see him walking off into the distance. They give each other a

feeble wave. End of story. John Malkovich's deep lugubrious voice-over

tells us that he behaved in this way either because of folly or pride.

Well it was certainly folly - and certainly unbelievable. Or could it

have been impotence? Could this story be saying something about the

impotence of an old man?

In another segment of the film, Malkovich's character is attracted to a

young woman (Sophia Marceau) he sees in a shop window. He can't take his

eyes off her and just stands there entranced. She reacts in the same

way. He goes into the shop and their silent fascination continues. I

felt uncomfortable for both of them. Was something momentous about to

happen? It would seem so and our interest is awakened, our expectations

aroused. But no; we are just being lead up the garden path to nowhere.

He sits outside and eventually she joins him. She tells him only one

thing about herself, that she has murdered her father by stabbing him

twelve times. Malkovich shows no surprise and the fact seems irrelevant.

They then go to her place and they have sex. But this is not the

beginning of some deep, meaningful relationship as the earlier

enchantment would lead us to suppose. Oh no. When he's had his sex he's

had enough and like the previous male protagonist, he just walks away.

Another wretched piece of behaviour and

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Did You Know?


In order to obtain the covering insurance needed to put the film into production, Michelangelo Antonioni (who was still recovering from a severely debilitating stroke) had to agree to have a secondary director on staff, ready to take over from him at any time. His choice, Wim Wenders, even provided the prologue and epilogue for the film.


Patricia: Everything is ridiculous. Love is ridiculous. It has to be said. It's an illusion, a trap. But the trap is mysterious, so we all fall into it. Like stewed prunes!

Alternate Versions

There are two slightly different versions of the movie, the difference ocurring at the end. The US version of 'Beyond The Clouds' (Al di là delle nuvole, 1995) lacks the complete voice-over narration by John Malkovich's character at the end of the movie, from the moment he enters the hotel until the last image, before going to credits. The only line heard is: 'The director's profession is very peculiar...'; whereas the European cut of the movie contains a longer narration, also starting with the same line, but expanding until the last image before fading to credits. The voice-over talks about how the director's profession is to find images, only to discover another image beneath the previous one which is more faithful to the truth, and then another, and another, until you reach the one which equals reality, the one no one will ever see. Both versions are equally powerful in their own right, though it's interesting to note such a minor difference was made in the first place. Both versions are available, the US version was released in DVD, and the European version is available in VHS only.


Fire in the Belly
(Piano version)
Written and performed by
Van Morrison


Plot Summary


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