The Criterion Collection's release of Wim Wender's "Paris, Texas" is a cause for celebration. Shot by his long-time collaborator Robby Muller, the Blu-Ray format gives the rich colour pallete it's just deserve, and further textualizes the narrative of this deeply nuanced tale penned by Sam Shepard (based on his Motel Chronicles short stories).
The film begins with an aerial shot of Texas' Devil's Graveyard, a barren landscape where the main character Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton), is wandering amongst the hardscrabble terrain wearing a suit, a red baseball cap, and carrying a jug of water. Unable to talk, and repressing his memories, he is eventually re-united with his Los Angeles based brother Walt (Dean Stockwell). They drive from Texas back to California, where Walt and his wife Anne (Aurore Clement) have been looking after Travis's son Hunter (Hunter Carlson) during Travis' four year absence. Now eight, Hunter seeks to bond with his father, and as a result Travis and Hunter set out to travel back to Texas to find Travis' wife (and Hunter's mother) Jane (Nastassja Kinski). Upon his discovery of Jane's current workplace in a peep show venue, Travis elequantly confronts her through a one-way mirror to let her know how much he regrets his prior indiscretions, and that he has brought Hunter with him in an effort to restablish their family.
The short synposis above tells the story - but the film itself is enhanced even more by the Ry Cooder soundtrack and the photography of Robby Muller. The supplemental material - with which the Criterion Collection never fails to impress - includes a 2000 interview on German TV with Wenders, in which he elaborates on the script writing process with Shepard. They went into production with only half the script written, and when they reached the end of the pages, with Shepard on another shoot in Illinois, Wenders enlisted Kit Carlson (the father of Hunter Carlson, who plays Travis' son), and they together, along with some telexed pages from Shepard, were able to finish the script, and consequently, the filming. Two other interviews with Claire Denis (Assistant Director) and Allison Anders (Production Assistant), are also revealing, and especially nostalgiac as these two formidable women are now immensely respected directors in their own right.
I had owned this film on VHS for a couple decades, having The Criterion Collection release it on Blu Ray and give it the red carpet treatment is a special treat. This is a seminal independant film, and has been noted by U2 as an inspiration for their Joshua Tree album, and by both Elliot Smith and Kurt Cobain as their all-time favorite film. Nevertheless, this is a film not just worth watching, but owning and referencing from time to time due to it's timeless construct. 5 stars for so many reasons.