A man wanders out of the desert not knowing who he is. His brother finds him, and helps to pull his memory back of the life he led before he walked out on his family and disappeared four years earlier.
|Release Date||:||May 19, 1984|
|Production Company||:||20th Century Fox, Channel Four Films, Tobis, Palace Pictures, Argos Films, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Road Movies Filmproduktion, Film4, The Criterion Collection|
|Production Countries||:||France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States of America|
|Director||:||Wim Wenders, Claire Denis, Helen Caldwell|
|Writers||:||Sam Shepard, L.M. Kit Carson|
|Casts||:||Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell, Hunter Carson, Aurore Clément, Bernhard Wicki, John Lurie, Jeni Vici, Sally Norvell, Socorro Valdez, Claresie Mobley, Viva, Tom Farrell|
|Plot Keywords||:||brother brother relationship, regret, texas, peep show, van, mute, redemption, state in title, los angeles, desert, family, home movie, new german cinema|
"Paris, Texas" is by far one of the best films ever made. It's a well-photographed film; it's almost like a portrait. In the center you have the characters: Travis, Walt, Hunter, Jane, and Anne; and all around them you see the desert and the empty space and the places they inhabit. The major characters are all memorable, especially Harry Dean Stanton as Travis and Dean Stockwell as Walt.
The film is about reunion. The first third of the film, dealing with the reunion of brothers Travis and Walt in the Texas desert, is both very touching and very real. You can sense the frustration on Walt's face when Travis doesn't want to talk to him about anything, and throughout the road trip, you begin to get more interested in Travis' ramblings to Walt about Paris, Texas.
The second third deals with the reunion of Travis with his son, Hunter, and, to a lesser extent, since he's only been gone for less than a week, the reunion of Walt with his wife Anna and Hunter. This is by far my favorite part of the film, because it shows a young boy (Hunter) trying to readjust after his father returns after a four-year absence. Hunter (by the way, he's a great actor) is nice to Travis at first, but refuses to walk home from school with him because "Everyone drives." The fact that director Wim Wenders focuses on this little portion of the film shows true family life--it expands the little "sin" that Hunter has done. This event sets up perhaps my favorite scene in any film: Hunter and Travis walking home "together"--on opposite sides of the street--with the boy mimicking the movements of his real father. In the following scene I'm touched because the neighborhood reminds me of home--Hunter stops and allows his father to cross the street to join him. There is also a scene (also with no dialogue) that deserves mention--the family watching Super 8mm film of a family fishing trip. Here we see Jane for the first time (a beauty), and we get a portrait of the happy family while the film plays background music for us. It's a wonderful scene that's executed beautifully. The film of the fishing trip allows Hunter to make an observation to Anne about his father--he sees by the way Travis looked at Jane that Travis still loves her very much.
The last third of the film comes as a real shock, and I won't spoil it for anyone because this third of the film is what made me REALLY love the entire film. The sequence of events in the final third actually came out of left field, because I was never really expecting that. You should have figured out, though, that there is a reunion between Travis and his estranged wife, Jane. Harry Dean Stanton's monologue is perhaps one of the best ever caught on film. It's really long but you hear every word and every pause. And what I like about that particular scene is the lighting--notice how the sunlight comes in through the window in Jane's room, and suddenly near the end you realize that it's been artificial light after all. There is a similar lighting effect in "A Clockwork Orange"--during Alex's chat with F. Alexander and his two co-conspirators over wine and spaghetti.
Overall, "Paris, Texas" is a great film that should be noted both for its photography and for its realistic look at family life. These are people who are a real family--opinionated, angry, happy, sad, melodramatic, judgmental, high-strung, incommunicado, etc. They refuse sometimes to admit their true feelings and that is exactly what makes a family a family sometimes, the fact that you can't say what you really want to say at a certain time.
This is the kind of film directors really want to make--small, realistic, poignant...and with zero special effects.