Nick's Film - Lightning Over Water

Nick's Film - Lightning Over Water
by Wim Wenders
Country: GFR, Sweden
Year: 1980
Duration: 90'

The last days of the director Nicholas Ray, who is terminally ill with lung and brain cancer, filmed by Wenders when he visited Ray at his house-laboratory on Spring Street in New York. Wenders films his friend and maestro, whom he met in 1976 on the set of The American Friend, during his meetings, as he works on his project for another film, his conversations with guests and collaborators and his admittance into hospital, ending with his death, on June 18, 1979.

“It’s a film about making a film, half-way between every genre, and because of Nick’s increasing weakness, it’s a film about ‘a man who wants to find himself before he dies, who wants to find his self-respect again,’ as Nick says in the film. It’s also a film about another man, myself, who becomes increasingly confused, who feels that the other person wants and needs the film to help him die, to kill him. After a while it stopped being a film about a subject. The film itself became a matter of life or death.”


film director

Wim Wenders

After high school enrolled first at the faculty of medicine, then at the faculty of philosophy. But he eventually abandoned his studies and moved to Paris, where he dedicated himself to painting. He unsuccessfully attempted to enroll at Paris’ Idhec, then moved back to Germany in 1967, where he studied at the new Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film in Munich and also wrote for various film magazines. Between 1967 and 1969 he made his first short films, which already presented the themes and forms of his future filmography, like his careful attention to images, his love of rock music and the theme of travel. In 1969 he made his graduating film, Summer in the City, which detailed and articulated the themes of his poetics. His first feature film, The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1971), brought him to the attention of international critique and in 1974 he began his “famous road trilogy,” which through the films Alice in the Cities (1974), False Movement (1975) and Kings of the Road (1976) further developed the theme of travel. By now a confirmed filmmaker, he shot The American Friend (1977) before moving to the United States to film the last days of Nicholas Ray in Lighting over Water (1980). In 1982 he won the Leone d’oro in Venice with The State of Things, which he shot in a working break during the complex production of the Hollywood film Hammett (1982), produced by Francis Coppola. In 1984 his film Paris, Texas, a new reflection on travel and America, won him the Palme d’or in Cannes. In 1987, after a side trip to Japan with Tokyo-Ga (1985), a documentary about Tokyo and Ozu, he returned to Europe and made Wings of Desire (1987). In 1991 he made Until the End of the World, a vast road movie that was distorted by distribution requirements (but whose director’s cut Wenders re-edited in 2004) and in 1993 Faraway, So Close!, a sequel to Wings of Desire that won the Jury’s Grand Prize in Cannes. In 1995, with his friend and maestro Michelangelo Antonioni, he filmed Beyond the Clouds, followed by Lisbon Story. After The End of Violence (1997), in 1998 he filmed his encounter with Ry Cooder and Cuban music, creating an extraordinarily successful documentary, Buena Vista Social Club. He returned to his beloved America for his next films: The Million Dollar Hotel (2001), whose subject was written by Bono, The Soul of a Man (2002), an episode of Martin Scorsese’s project The Blues, Land of Plenty (2004), a reflection on the post-9-11 period, and Don’t Come Knocking (2005), another collaboration with Sam Shepard, after Paris, Texas.


Schauplätze (cm, 1967), Klappenfilm (cm, 1967), Victor I (cm, 1968), Same Player Shoots Again (1968), Silver City (cm, 1968), Polizeifilm (cm, 1968), Alabama (2000 Light Years) (cm, 1968), 3 Amerikanische LP’s (cm, 1969), Summer in the City (1970), Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (Prima del calcio di rigore, 1971), Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe (La lettera scarlatta, 1972), Alice in den Städten (Alice nelle città, 1974), «Ein Haus für uns» (ep. Aus der Familie der Panzerechsen; ep. Die Insel, cm, TV, 1974), Falsche Bewegung (Falso movimento, 1975), Im Lauf der Zeit (Nel corso del tempo, 1976), Der Amerikanische Freund (L’amico americano, 1977), Nick’s Film - Lightning Over Water (Nick’s Movie - Lampi sull’acqua, doc., 1980), Hammett (Hammett - Indagine a Chinatown, 1981), Der Stand der Dinge (Lo stato delle cose, 1982), Reverse Angle: NYC March ’82 (cm, doc., 1982), Chambre 666 - Cannes May ’82 (mm, doc., 1982), Paris, Texas (id., 1984), Tokyo-Ga (id., doc., 1985), Der Himmel über Berlin (Il cielo sopra Berlino, 1987), Aufzeichnungen zu Kleidern und Städten (Appunti di viaggio su moda e città, doc., 1989), Bis ans Ende der Welt (Fino alla fine del mondo, 1991), Arisha, der Bär und der steinerne Ring (Arisha, l’orso e l’anello di pietra, mm, 1992), In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Così lontano così vicino!, 1993), Lisbon Story (id., 1994), Al di là delle nuvole (1995), Lumière et compagnie (ep. Berlin, cm, 1995), Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky (I fratelli Skladanowsky, 1996), The End of Violence (Crimini invisibili, 1997), Willie Nelson at the Teatro (mm, doc., 1998), Buena Vista Social Club (id., 1999), The Million Dollar Hotel (id., 1999), Viel passiert. Der BAP Film (doc., 2002), Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (ep. Twelve Miles to Trona, cm, 2002), The Soul of a Man (L’anima di un
, doc., 2003), Land of Plenty (La terra dell’abbondanza, 2004), Don’t Come Knocking (Non bussare alla mia porta, 2005), Invisibles (ep. Invisible Crimes, cm, 2006).


U2, Night and Day (1990), Talking Heads, Sax and Violins (1991), U2, Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (1993), Madredeus, Céu da Mouraria (1995), Madredeus, Alfama (1995), Willie Nelson, I Never Cared for You (1998), U2, The Ground Beneath Her Feet (2000), Die Toten Hosen, Warum werde ich nicht satt? (2000), Eels, Souljacker part I (2002), BAP, Schluss, Aus, Okay (2002), Idlewild, Live in a Hiding Place (2002).


& Credits

regia, soggetto, sceneggiatura/director, story, screenplay Wim Wenders, Nicholas Ray
fotografia/director of photography Edward Lachman
montaggio/film editor Peter Przygodda (prima versione/first version), Wim Wenders (versione definitiva/final version)
musica/music Ronee Blakley
suono/sound Martin Müller, Maryte Kavaliauskas, Gary Steele, Lee Orloff
interpreti/cast Nicholas Ray, Wim Wenders, Tom Farrell, Ronee Blakley, Susan Ray, Tim Ray, Gerry Bamman, Pierre Cottrell, Stefan Czapsky, Mitch Dubin, Jim Jarmusch, Becky Johnston, Tom Kaufman, Maryte Kavaliauskas, Pat Kirck, Edward Lachman, Martin Müller, Craig Nelson, Peter Przygodda, Martin Schäfer, Chris Sievernich (se stessi/themselves)
produttore/producer Chris Sievernich, Pierre Cottrell, Wim Wenders
produzione/production Road Movies Filmproduktion, Viking Film, Wim Wenders Produktion