"I am sure that we humor God more if we gratefully accept the life he gives us with all its blessings, loving it and drinking it to the full . . . than we do if we are insensitive toward the blessings of life and therefore equally insensitive toward pain," the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Letters and Papers from Prison. The value of living fully in the present, recognizing both the blessings and the suffering in the world, is one theme of Wim Wenders' remarkable film Wings of Desire.

Damiel (Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (Otto Sander) are two angels who have spent an eternity watching over the affairs of men and women. Their job is to observe, collect, preserve, and testify. No one can see them — except children — as they move through the apartments, streets, and subways of modern-day Berlin.

Damiel and Cassiel eavesdrop on the thoughts, dreams, fears, and fantasies of a wide assortment of Berlin's citizens — parents who are baffled by their children's behavior, a pregnant woman, an injured man, a fellow contemplating suicide. Cassiel is content to just observe. He takes a special interest in Homer (Curt Bois), an old man who wants to speak out about the city's terrible past.

Damiel is different. The more he comes into close contact with the human adventure, the more he yearns to savor the palpable pleasures of a worldly existence. Even something as simple as having a warm cup of coffee to hold appeals to him. This desire reaches its climax when he falls in love with Marion (Solveig Dommartin), a beautiful trapeze artist in a traveling circus. Then Peter Falk, an American actor who is in Berlin shooting a movie about the Nazis, senses Damiel's presence and talks to him about what it is like to be human. The angel decides that he is ready to take a leap of faith and shed his wings. This classic film celebrates the sensuous earthly delights of life and love with sympathy and sensitivity.