The End of Violence: Synopsis

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THE END OF VIOLENCE, the latest film by internationally renowned director Wim Wenders, is a haunting meditation about the causes and effects and the uses and abuses of violence in life and art. Returning to America, the same landscape he covered so effectively in his Palme d'Or-winning Paris, Texas, Wenders now focuses on Los Angeles, where he once again creates a moody, visually arresting drama built around seemingly unrelated characters whom he gradually links in mysterious and surprising ways. As their separate stories converge and collide, the filmmaker crafts a distinctive and disturbing vision of a world in moral crisis.

The plot device in which an image accidentally caught on camera is gradually manipulated until it reveals a sinister plot is strongly reminiscent of the central premise of Michelangelo Antonioni's ground-breaking classic Blow-Up. Considering that Wenders recently collaborated with the legendary Italian director on the omnibus film Beyond the Clouds, this connection is not surprising and, as in Blow-Up, the characters in THE END OF VIOLENCE realize that they are so pre-occupied with recording or interpreting reality, they have lost the ability to participate in it. Like Antonioni before him, Wenders uses this premise as a potent metaphor for the role of the artist in contemporary society and creates a disturbing and highly pertinent inquiry into whether the artist merely reflects or whether he actually affects the world in which he lives.

THE END OF VIOLENCE made its World Premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

A CIBY 2000 Presentation of a Ciby Pictures/Road Movies/Kintop Pictures Coproduction of a Wim Wenders film, THE END OF VIOLENCE stars Bill Pullman, Andie MacDowell, Gabriel Byrne, Loren Dean, Traci Lind, Daniel Benzali and K. Todd Freeman. It was directed by Wim Wenders from a screenplay by Nicholas Klein and a story by Nicholas Klein and Wim Wenders. The producers are Deepak Nayar, Wim Wenders and Nicholas Klein, and the executive producers are Ulrich Felsberg and Jean Francois Fonlupt.

Act I

THE END OF VIOLENCE centers around two very different men, each of whom traffics in images of violence. Mike Max, played by Bill Pullman, is a hugely successful Hollywood producer whose stock in trade is state-of-the-art violent thrillers that attract and seduce a massive audience. However, Mike is no mere purveyor of schlock. His films, including his in-production project The Seeds of Violence, are made with such conviction and style that he has amassed a legion of fans and is seen as a man of cultural influence.

Gabriel Byrne stars as Ray Bering, a NASA-trained surveillance expert who is engaged in a top secret FBI project that will similarly influence society in sweeping ways. Ray is blanketing Los Angeles with a network of hidden cameras that will record street crime as it occurs. No longer will perpetrators of violent crimes be able to disappear into the shadows, and crime response time could be cut by 200 percent. In short, Ray's project is meant to bring about an end to violence. While Mike's cameras capture manufactured mayhem and Ray's record actuality, both men pursue their "crafts" obsessively, unconcerned with the content of their images or with their potential impact.

Mike controls his empire from his Malibu patio, an aerie poised so far above the Pacific Ocean that he appears to exist at the edge of the world. Armed with the most sophisticated technology, he is able to view the rushes from his film on a laptop and to communicate with everyone from a remote distance on his cellular phones. Working in a laboratory overlooking L.A. in the Griffith Park Observatory, Ray exists in similar isolation. However, as the film begins, Ray reaches out to Mike, whom he had met some months earlier and whose films he admires enormously.

Act II

One day, Ray sends Mike a massive E-mail containing the plans for his clandestine video surveillance project. Ray's motives are benign: he believes that his invention would make for an interesting premise for a Mike Max movie. Unfortunately, Ray doesn't realize that he is being secretly observed by his own superior (DANIEL BENZALI), just as he observes the citizenry of Los Angeles. By sending the E-mail to Mike, he creates a leak that might compromise the entire operation, making Mike a target for FBI elimination. That same afternoon, when Mike makes one of his rare forays into the city, two henchman are dispatched to murder him. Ironically, Ray's cameras will record the entire incident, but due to a technical problem, the images are blurred and difficult to read. Ray has no idea that the victim of the abduction he has on tape is Mike, nor does he realize that he, Ray, is directly responsible for this violent attack upon an innocent man.


Under mysterious circumstances, not captured by Ray's cameras, Mike manages to escape and go into hiding. Suddenly an ever-widening circle of people are drawn into the story, each of them affected by Mike's disappearance in different ways. Paige (ANDIE MacDOWELL), Mike's neglected wife, was about to leave him, but now finds herself inheriting his empire. Cat (TRACI LIND), a stuntwoman who works on Mike's films, now feels that she can no longer fake violent acts for a living. Doc Block (LOREN DEAN), the police inspector assigned to the case, has been such a fan of Mike's that he has difficulty separating his real-life investigation from a Mike Max detective "flick." Gangsta Rap producer Six O One (K. TODD FREEMAN) begins to reevaluate the violent message of his music.

Each character is implicated, then implicates others in an increasingly complex web of interconnections, all of which can be traced to one act of violence. And, as Ray studies his recording of that violent act, repeatedly magnifying it and clarifying it, he discovers what really happened to Mike. He also discovers the crucial role he played in making it happen.

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