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|
At face value, the screen story, about a dysfunctional family, is weak. The plot is not really credible. The lead character (Travis) is an older man who in the first ten minutes of the film wonders alone in the desert like a horse with no name, seemingly suffering from severe trauma. But Travis' later behavior and the behavior of other characters in the film are not believable, given this opening gambit.
However, if we discard our need to interpret behavior rationally, then the film works, either as a dream or, more generically, as a parable of modern day America, from the viewpoint of a European film director. The characters and their journey through the film's story are symbolic of American culture as a whole, with its ever-present loneliness, urban alienation, emotional separation, and general rootlessness.
The film's visuals and music combine to prop up the thin story, and give the film its enduring cultural theme. Cinematographer Robby Muller's images are stunning. His location shots both in the desert and in the urban jungle, using polarizing filters, are works of true photographic art. The images, with their florescent greens, reds, blues, and yellows in dim light are just terrific. More than any dialogue could, these visuals effectively convey the loneliness, alienation, and lost love that are so characteristically American. And Ry Cooder's simple but haunting Tex-Mex guitar sounds amplify this grim mood.
The film's main flaw is its length. With a runtime of 150 minutes, some parts of the film could have been edited out, without loss of the film's message.
"Paris, Texas" is a memorable art house film about the modern American experience. Like other art house films, the story is not necessarily to be taken literally. Instead, the story provides narrative support for the visuals, the music, and other film elements, the combination of which imparts some broader or deeper social message than could be conveyed by story alone.