In June of this year, Wim Wenders came to Brussels to attend “Discourses on Europe”, a public debate organised by the EU institutions. The German filmmaker, creator of world famous films such as “Wings of Desire”, was delighted to take time out and share his thoughts with us on Europe.
What does being European mean for you?
I was relieved as a kid to realise that I could be something other than German. I realised there was a different “definition” for somebody like me, a German coming out of the war. This idea of being European came without all the pitfalls of nationalism. So I’ve been an ardent European since I was 10 years old!
I loved the idea of Europe, because it freed me from the burden of belonging to a nation, something I never wanted. I’m German, my entire education has been German, my German language is responsible not only for the form but also for the content of my thoughts, but I’m happy I can consider myself European.
What has been the greatest achievement of the EU over these 50 years?
I think the idea of Europe, the project that started 50 years ago, has had a bigger effect than any other political idea in the history of Europe.
We’ve had a long period of peace. There’s a whole new culture of dialogue in Europe and there’s also more development here than in any other part of the world.
In 50 years, all the ideas they were talking about when I was a kid, the common currency, having no more borders etc, have become reality.
Europe is now faced with the task of taking the next step and moving to another level where it can define itself.
What is your favourite European film?
L‘auberge espagnole. For my generation, travel was a luxury. Nowadays with cheap flights, young Europeans are travelling more, and are seemingly in a different country every weekend. This film accurately depicts this and reflects the adventurous side, that chaos that Europe represents. There is nothing more inspiring than chaos, that’s why I’m a filmmaker. Among this chaos, you have to find the meaning that will transform it and make it something that has sense, tells a story and conveys emotions. Chaos is the greatest source of inspiration for an artist, and Europe is chaotic.