Division in Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky


Nobody would argue with the fact that any piece of art reflects an identity of its author. In the same way, art reflects entire nationalities. Regarding that, a particular nationality demonstrates its identity throughout certain features. The most applicable example can be provided by German art that places the emphasis on its period of being divided with the Wall of Berlin. A wide range of books as well as movies are dedicated to that period. Furthermore, literature and cinematography present their national identity under various circumstances so that there has been a little agreement on what drastically typical national features can be indicated in German literature and cinematography. A problem of division and self-identity is a strong controversy for Germans which is why these concepts are present in the most of contemporary German art. In fact, such movie as Wings of Desire and book They Divided The Sky contain the most evident elements of division and symbolism so that they have to be compared and contrasted.

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The book under a further comparative analysis is They Divided The Sky by Christa Wolf. The book revolves around a young girl, named Rita, and her boyfriend. A couple lives in a hard time of formation of Eastern Berlin and division of Germany with the Wall. Within the entire book, a couple gradually develops opposing political views that became a cause for many conflicts. Rita is depressed because of constant fights with her boyfriend. She does not want to live in a communist society and she does not have any chance to escape to the Western Berlin. The book describes certain hardships of living behind the Wall that has become a symbol of division between people, political forces, and entire world views. A constant struggle with a community around leads Rita to a decision about a suicide that she attempts to commit.

The movie Wings of Desire is directed by Wim Wenders in 1987. The plot of the movie depicts two angels, who travel around Berlin and watch people: their thoughts, feelings, and desires. An angel named Damiel falls in love with a circus trapeze artist and decided to choose a mortal life in order to enjoy nature of humans: feelings, emotions, and suffer. The movie demonstrates that angels are eternal and they are unable to experience human feelings as angels have a spirit and a thought only. The wanderings of the angels include various philosophic encounters and allusions on a classical world literature and philosophy. The majority of action is taken in Western Berlin, but the angels fly over the entire city. The movie is dedicated to “former angels” which is why the message of the movie is quite apparent. The movie received positive feedback even though such complicated concepts were depicted in the movie.


To speak about similarities of symbolism in Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky, a theme of mortality should be indicated. The main character of the book committed suicide while the angels the movie chose a mortal life in order to enjoy the feelings of humans. A common symbol of mortality is an implication on an internal freedom. Rita attempted to commit a suicide as she could not find freedom in the Eastern Berlin while the West was closed for her. Namely, she did not belong to that society so that she decided to found an eternal freedom in her physical death. As for the angels, they made a choice of free will and substituted their immortality with mortal emotions. This symbol is closely connected to a symbol of self-search that is apparent in the book as well as in the movie. The main characters felt that they did not belong to their current social status and start looking for something that they belong to so that they face various life hardships.

Symbolism of Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky is based on psychological associations. Symbols are undetermined so that their perception is related to experiencing particular emotions rather than imagination of a certain concept. In such a way, a symbol of always escaping happiness can be observed in Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky. Angels travel within both sides of Berlin and talk to people in order to find the most joyful human lifestyle, but human life is different as long as everyone faces their own destiny. Likewise, Rita is dreaming about the Western Germany, where she could find freedom. Rita made several attempts to escape socialist reality, but even her boyfriend finds life under Soviet regime more satisfactory than on the West. Overall, symbols of Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky are commonly emotional and personal so that the audience may experience different feelings.

On the contrary, a symbol of mortality is placed in entirely opposing discourses. In They Divided The Sky, the main character considers eternity as a way to escape objective reality. In other words, mortality is regarded as an ability to escape human world. Therefore, Rita decided to commit a suicide since she did not find any reason to live around humans in a human society. As for Wings of Desire, the main characters chose mortality for enjoying human world with all its negative as well as positive sides. Namely, the movie symbolizes eternity as a boredom which is why a mortal life is a far much valuable gift without any respect to a political situation around. Hence, a difference in exposure of political perspective is also explicit.

Regarding that, a symbol of Zero Hour is present in the book while the movie does not pay a special attention to that concept. Zero Hour means a beginning of a new life for Germans since they experienced Prussian militarism and rule of Nazi. The book depicts the Eastern Berlin as a way of punishment Germans for their historical past. As a consequence, the main character refuses to realize that her generation has to bear a burden of payback for a violent past of Germany. The book symbolizes Zero Hour as a fake historic, cultural, and social paradigm that was never embodied in the Eastern Germany. In contrast, Wings of Desire depicted the divided city of Berlin as an average European city with people, who are the same behind both sides of the Wall. Generally speaking, the movie places the emphasis on the fact that Zero Hour has come in the mentality of people, who start leading average lifestyles even though decades of war and violence are behind them.


In regards to a theme of division in Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky, both of them similarly demonstrate a division of Berlin with the Wall. The book places the emphasis on the fact that he Wall is a burden of Eastern Berliners and the main cause of Rita’s self-search. First of all, the movie as well as the book depicts a political and geographical division of Berlin. However, division, a symbol of The Wall especially, renders various figurative meanings. In such a way, division by the Wall means that a contemporary society limits itself with various walls not only in a real life but in their mentality. The main character of the book wants to break the wall, but she actually built one more wall around her happiness as she could not feel happy in soviet Berlin. By the same token, human nature is depicted in Wings of Desire. People ruin old walls and build new ones while angels only are able to fly over all walls. Such implied statement renders a message that happiness is not a goal but a state which is why there is no need to look over the wall in order to be happy. The other motive of division can be seen in description of human nature. In the book, Rita argues with her boyfriend and his family about social situation between East and West. Thus, the book suggests that people are tending to divide themselves by certain identities: political, social, cultural, and etc. Likewise, the movie demonstrates humans with different traits of characters, experiences, and outlooks behind both sides of the wall so that division is natural for humans since they can be divided according to their personalities.

At the same time, some drastic differences in exposure of division’s theme can be observed. In such a way, the book touches upon a division between life and death. The main character tried to commit a suicide, but survived and fell in coma. Hence, a line between life and death is quite thin. Division of life and death is natural, but one, who should live in spite of all hardships, should not divide his/her existence. Conversely, the movie demonstrates unity of mortality and immortality as immortal angels can become humans and vice versa. Instead of that, the movie describes a division of heaven and earth: people cannot see and feel what the angels can. However, the angels cannot enjoy a feeling of mortal life and have to face a boredom of immortality.

The book, however, considers division to be mainly personal issue. That fact is especially apparent in terms of a common trend on a German literature of the post-war era: the main character is in a constant crisis of self-search as the past was ruined by the war while the present is occupied with unfamiliar and oppressive regime. Thus, the main character starts seeking for a better future and inner harmony. As a consequence, a theme of division of personality can be traced in They Divided The Sky. One may argue that such theme of division can be indicated in much of the literature. It is certainly true, but They Divided The Sky presents a multi-dimensional theme of division. The concept of division is traceable on all levels: global, personal, and philosophic. Unlike the movie, the book does not render a message that division of people is a normal phenomenon. The book, however, admits that people are tending to divide, but that makes them weaker, and division is a negative process.


It is appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that division and symbolism are generally typical of German literature as well as cinematography. In terms of historic perspective, Germany was the most subdivided state within the entire Europe. Hence, a period of the Wall of Berlin was particularly depressive for all Germans. As a consequence, a theme of division and undetermined symbolism of feelings, self-search, and philosophic approach to the life code German identity. Wings of Desire and They Divided The Sky address the same issues, but at different angels. In such a way, the book covers more personalized and socialized problems of these years while the movie touches upon eternal and global questions. The book demonstrates how deeply a public opinion may affect a life of an individual while the movie discusses such various global issues and controversies.

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