“Making movies is suicide.”
Watched this right after Ruiz’s The Territory.
Alexander Graf quoted by Michael Goddard: “The story is based on the situation [Wenders] found when he visited [Ruiz] in Portugal to charitably bring black and white film stock to a stranded film-crew whose finances were exhausted: their story became the background to the story for The State of Things, in which he films the crew – some of whom were borrowed from the real stranded crew – in the act of waiting.”
Opens as a sepia-toned post-apocalyptic sci-fi film starring The Territory cast, and after a few minutes turns to silvery black-and-white behind-the-scenes, with Sam Fuller playing the cinematographer, and Patrick Bauchau (Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse) as the director Fritz. After a close-up shot, Fuller tells Fritz they’re out of film. The crew gets down time, hangs around their hotel, everyone assuming the producer can send more film soon, but after a few days Fuller hears that his estranged wife has died and returns to the States, soon followed by Fritz who wants to find their producer Gordon.
Sam and Fritz:
This first half is great, from the sci-fi stuff to the beautifully shot (by Alekan again) boredom and cast/crew artistic hobbies. Then in the States, Wenders thinks we need a pulp plot. Gordon’s lawyer (Roger Corman, who supposedly helped produce The Territory) won’t say where Gordon is, but Fritz finds his mobile home and goes for a ride, finding out Gordon (Allen Garfield, a Gene Hackman type, of Hi, Mom! and Putney Swope) is broke, never paid for the movie in the first place (the screenwriter did), and owes money to gangsters, who inevitably catch up and kill both men. The very ending is a highlight, Fritz pulling out his camera, holding it like a gun while searching for the shooter.
Movie references about. Fuller himself makes a Forty Guns reference, pointed shots of a marquee with The Searchers and Fritz Lang’s star on the walk of fame. Billboards for 1980-81 movies like Caveman, The Jazz Singer and Ordinary People. Wenders was in his classic American cinema phase, having just worked with Nicholas Ray and made a couple of detective movies.
Fuller’s driver: “I take pictures, photographs, but I never really thought in black and white before I saw our rushes. You can see the shape of things.”
Fuller: “Life is in color, but black and white is more realistic.”
Organ doom music (by Wenders regular Jürgen Knieper – not Jim Jarmusch as IMDB states) sometimes overloads the scene. Nice use of X’s Los Angeles when they arrive in Los Angeles.
Fritz complete filmography:
Artur Semedo, the other man on the dam in The Territory, plays the production manager:
I read that Joaquim Pinto’s new movie What Now? Remind Me has behind-the-scenes footage of The Territory. I would’ve made this a triple-feature, but it’s not out yet.