Wim Wenders’ Kings of the Road is a pic about men and adventure. For nearly three hours nothing much happens as two men cross the middle of Germany, from Lueneburg to Hof along the East German border, but it’s what they see and hear that captures attention. The charm is in the Newman-Redford types, both funny and tragic, and in the pic’s improvisational character.
Bruno travels along the border in a moving van that serves as a household camper; he is a projectionist who dismantles old movie equipment for sale elsewhere. Along the Elbe he meets Robert, a child psychologist running away from his women troubles who drives his VW sleepy-headed right into the middle of the river. It’s the beginning of a journey into the past as well as adjusting to the loneliness of the present.
This is an American ‘road picture’ in its most elemental form. It has the flavor of a Howard Hawks pic in the relationship of the two men to one another in an easy, unquestioning manner, but there are lines out to Fritz Lang and John Ford also in the tone and atmosphere of certain scenes. The landscape of deserted towns and movie houses on the border has a ’30s look of the Depression Years.
Pic’s only drawback is its length; cut of a good half hour or more could tighten up story line measureably. Lensing is top-notch throughout.