Solveig Dommartin as ‘Marion’ (Wings of Desire)

Franco-German actor Solveig Dommartin was struck down by a heart attack in Paris on January 11 at the obscenely young age of 45.

Her acting career began in the theatre in France and Germany. She then worked for a time as an assistant to the director Jacques Rozier (best known for his nouvelle-vague 1962 classic Adieu Philippine) before making her screen debut in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, in which she memorably played the part of the circus acrobat who ensnares the heart of an angel and causes his fall from grace amongst the black and white roofs and skies of Berlin.

Solveig had to learn circus acrobatics and all sorts of trapeze movements in under eight weeks for the film and never used a stunt double. For many people, it is still Wenders’ most striking movie and she will ever be remembered for the part.

It was on the set of the film that she began a liaison with Wenders, which was to last several years and led to her co-writing 1991’s Until the End of the World, a daring folly of a road movie in which a band of misfits, seekers, secret agents and femmes fatales roamed the globe in a search for the absolute, only to end up in the Australian desert.

Wenders said of the film: “Solveig Dommartin and I had written the story of the film together, and we thought that we only had the right to enter into such a sacred area as a person’s dreams if we would bring something into the work that was sacred to ourselves.”

For filmgoers everywhere, she will always be the beauty who enticed an angel down from heaven, but for those of us who knew her, she will be remembered as a hell of a girl.

(Excerpt from The Guardian Obituary Tuesday 6 February 2007)

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