Great films shine a lot on human experience, stay with us, affect us, give us a new perspective, or even a new name. Take the 1987 film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders, revolving around two invisible, immortal angels. It inspired a band name it was so beautiful, as well as a Hollywood remake.
The angels in the film glide and shimmer through Berlin listening to the thoughts of its human inhabitants and comforting the distressed. Even though the city is densely populated, many of the people are isolated and estranged from their loved ones. But this film is not the only one to have been a reference for a band name; below in our piece Named By Film meet a few more.
When one of the angels in Wings of Desire (the film), Daniel, falls in love with a trapeze artist, Marion, who wears wings for her performances, swinging angel-like above awe-struck crowds, he longs to experience life in the physical world and realises it may be possible for him to take human form.
This film is a shining example of a portrait of a divided Berlin just before the wall fell and it remains a beautiful romantic piece of cinema.
The band that got its namesake from the film have a new track ‘Be Here Now’: Electronic synths, billowing riffs, blended genres but with definite rocky hues; a track that truly takes you out of yourself. It enables you to be truly present in the moment, to not focus on the past or the future but on the here and now.
This is something the duo that make up Wings of Desire definitely wanted to achieve, taking inspiration from the Ram Dass quote of ‘Be Here Now’ in 1971. They say the song is about being exactly where you are supposed to be: “No one wants to be stuck on autopilot, it’s not good for the soul. As humans we need to be aware of the automatic action and reactions we have become accustomed to, and find a place of clarity and calm. The present moment offers peace, it gives us space to transcend.”
More generally, the band draw inspiration from visual arts, psychological revolution and 20th century counterculture. You can listen to their new track below:
It is easy to see some similarities between Wenders’ film and the band occupying the same name, with the band enjoying Berlin-era Bowie and also saying “We want to bring joy and euphoria from our tiny corner of the universe through these songs, and hopefully start a conversation about the things we cannot see”, similarly to Wenders’ invisible angels. The transcendental sounds can also be seen as an allusion to the angels, who are a ray of hope to the afflicted and overwhelmed.
Indeed, Wings of Desire came together as a project which speaks about the overwhelming planet we inhabit, about a world that has lost its nuance, that is an amalgamation of questions that don’t have answers; a similar feeling the characters in the film have.
Barbaraella is a vastly different but still classic cult film, to add to our Named By Film list. Made in the late sixties it can be classified as sci-fi. The film stars Jane Fonda as the title character, a space-traveller and representative of the United Earth government sent to find scientist Durand Durand, who has created a weapon that could destroy humanity. He also tries to kill Barbaraella by making her literally die of pleasure.
The film was particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where it was the year’s second-highest-grossing film. Considered a cult classic, its evil villain gave the name of a rather successful 1980’s pop act their name; Duran Duran.
A decade after Barbarella was made, the band of the same name was formed in Birmingham where members John Taylor and Nick Rhodes became the resident band at the city’s Rum Runner nightclub. Many nearby nightclubs hosted bands such as the Clash and the Sex Pistols, but the most significant club was Barbarella’s. Bands of that era named songs after the club to mourn its closure, and Rhodes and Taylor went on to name their band after “Dr. Durand Durand”, from the film, played by Milo O’Shea.
In 1984, O’Shea reprised his role as Dr. Durand Durand for the 1985 Duran Duran concert film Arena (An Absurd Notion). Rather than a straight concert video, the band and director Russell Mulcahy added a storyline and surreal elements interwoven with footage of the band performing on stage.
The doctor crash lands on earth and is surprised and confused to find teenagers chanting his name. When he discovers that they are not chanting for him, but for an upstart pop group, he sets up shop beneath the concert arena and attempts to wreak havoc on the band that stole his name. Of course, he and his henchmen fail at every turn and Duran Duran continue to perform, seemingly unaware of the evil doctor’s plans.
Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is no doubt another classic. The film of course chronicles the horrific crime spree that Alex and his friends embark upon, his capture and attempted rehabilitation via an experimental psychological conditioning technique. Rather than glamourising Alex’s lifestyle, the film is resoundingly abstract.
The English-Irish electronic music duo, Moloko, took their name from Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. The name comes from the narcotic-filled drink that Alex and the ‘droogs’ drink, Moloko Plus, coming from the Russian word for milk.
The band were formed in Sheffield and consisted of vocalist Roisin Murphy and producer Mark Brydon. Blending elements of trip-hop, electronica, and dance music, they are best known for their singles “The Time Is Now” and “Familiar Feeling” as well as the 1999 Boris Dlugosch remix of “Sing It Back” which became an international hit.
All of these poetic and artistic films have influenced music; no doubt there is always an interlink between various art forms. Just as an amazing film is so often made better by an amazing sound track, the music world is cosying up to its celluloid cousin.
You can find out more about Wings of desire here.
If you enjoyed reading Named By Film they why not read Reartepration here.