During the Cannes Film Festival in 1982, German director Wim Wenders asked a group of 15 international film directors to join him in a film experiment. Each director agreed to walk into Room 666 of the Carlton Hotel alone, and read a question about the future of cinema. One by one, each director answered the question, as a 16mm film camera and Nagra sound recorder churned steadily… capturing their response.
Some of the directors interviewed include Steven Spielberg, Jean-Luc Godard, and Michelangelo Antonioni. These are intelligent dudes, so the results are fascinating (especially if you treasure ‘cinemasterbatory’ sociopolitical rants). Wim Wenders edited the footage into a final 45 minute documentary called Room 666.
Even those familiar with Wim Wenders’ films (Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire, Pina) may not have seen this unique, introspective piece. For years it was hard to find. Seeing it again now, it feels like a novelty, like some kind of self-contained time capsule. As if it was made with the intention of getting lost over the years, so audiences could dig it up one day and chew on the same question. Yes… ponder that. Whatever the intention, it’s interesting that discovering Room 666 today is easier than it ever was.
To give you a taste, here’s the beginning of the film. It leads with director Werner Herzog, who shares a raw stream of thoughts on cinema, then ponders its digital future. Time has aged Herzog’s answer well. Like the film, the footage has fermented into something rather poignant, and worthy of discovery.