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Paris, Texas (1984)
|by P. G. R. Nair|
Director: Wim Wenders/ USA/English/147 mts
Paris, Texas is a profoundly beautiful film that certainly should belong to any film collection worthy of the name. It rewards on all levels- cinematography, story, acting, and heart - even soundtrack. The film takes you to an eerie and exotic place, both literally and emotionally, and maintains its high-wire level of vivid authenticity for each and every one of its 147 minutes. Put simply, this is filmmaking at its very best - Paris, Texas surely earned its 1984 Palme d'Or.
“Paris, Texas" comes across as the visual equivalent of a tone poem. 'Paris, Texas,' written by Sam Shepherd, is the story of Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton), a loner and drifter with obvious psychological and emotional issues, who resurfaces after a four year absence. Where has he been? Nobody knows. But his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell) picks him up from the dusty plains of Texas and drives him back to Los Angeles. While Travis remains mostly mute, he does reveal that he's purchased a small piece of land in Paris, Texas. Paris, Texas is where Walt and Travis' parents first made love. It's where Travis hopes to one day settle down.
Once back in Los Angeles, Travis is reintroduced to his young son, Hunter (Hunter Carson), who has no memories of his father and only knows what his uncle and aunt (Aurore Clément) tell him. Walt has been taking care of Hunter since Travis' disappearance and he treats Hunter like his son. Travis has returned to rediscover his life and undo the past as best he can. As virtual strangers, Hunter and Travis begin to build a wary friendship and conspire to locate his estranged wife Jane (Natassja Kinski) who disappeared sending Travis on his own lost journey into Hades.
The German director Wim Wenders (famous for "Wings of Desire", "Atlantic City", "Kings of the Road") makes in "Paris, Texas" the landscape as much a character as those we are following in the film. In Paris, Texas, very little happens - and it happens at a leisurely pace. Director Wim Wenders uses time opulently, painting nuanced details on a vast canvas; we're well into the movie before Travis (our protagonist) even speaks. The austere Texas landscapes Travis wanders seem haunted by an exquisite spiritual longing and emptiness, perfectly majestic and perfectly designed to torment him.
With extraordinary performances from Harry Dean Stanton as Travis and Natassja Kinski (Daughter of the great German actor Klaus Kinski) as Jane, the film also boasts a soundtrack by Ry Cooder, ideally suited to the film's sun-bleached landscapes and melancholy undertones.
Viewers who surrender to the spell of this movie will wear their emotions outside their skin; there is vulnerability, openness, and poignancy that is sometimes almost unbearable. This film is indeed a meditative piece on the loss of self, memory and Travis' attempt to reclaim what is lost after trauma.
A series of "Hundred Favorite Films Forever"
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