Commissioned by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Wim Wenders made this experimental-styled documentary shortly after "Wings of Desire," and he chose to focus on the man who designed Solveig Dommartin's dresses for "Wings."
Wenders returns to his wandering style as he follows Yohji Yamamoto in Tokyo as the fashion designer prepares his latest collection, and later in Paris for the Pret a Porter show. The director once again combines disparate elements, this time using 35mm Arriflex footage, and short segments shot by Wenders himself using an old reliable Eyemo camera (who knew the little ol' hand-crank could work so well after forty years?). The director also took Nicholas Ray's approach from "You Can't Go Home," and combined Hi8 video footage by photographing and re-photographing elements back to film.
Though the narrative and pacing often fall victim to Wenders' static shots, the shots themselves offer some intriguing ideas: interview segments captured on Hi8 are played back thru a small monitor, while larger footage - video and/or film - are captured from a larger monitor. The split-screen approach gives Wenders opportunities to play with sound - much in the way Mike Figgis utilized his focused sound mixes for "Time Code: 2000" - and all elements are immortalized on standard 35mm film stock.
Anchor Bay's transfer is very clean, showcasing the beautiful compositions which Wenders and his cameramen shot in Paris, Tokyo, and a handful in Berlin. The sound mix is pretty straightforward; a 5.1 remix doesn't offer much more over the 2.0 Surround track, as Wenders' reliance on location sound doesn't offer much fidelity. The Yamamoto interview chunks are of variable sound quality, and are occasionally murky due to some background clamor and poor miking. The disc automatically loads English subtitles for the Japanese language interview segments, which are removable.
The extras offer some deleted scenes and extended shots which Wenders dropped or altered for the final film, and he provides brief comments that often end before the lengthy clips have finished.
"Twelve Years Later" reflects the continuing friendship between the two artists, as explained primarily by Yamamoto, and Wenders is the largely silent subject, seen in the designer's store, at a social gathering, and playing pool with Yamamoto - a game both have used to catch up on missing periods through the intervening years.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan