on February 10, 2004
It's not surprising that Wim Wenders production company is called 'Road Movies'. In the vast majority of his films geography is just as important as characterization and plot. So it is with 'Paris, Texas', where the remarkable vista shots give some sense of the awe and wonder the average European must feel when confronted with this vast American landscape. Originally, Wender's vision was much larger in scope. He wanted the Harry Dean Stanton character to zig-zag his way across the entire country hoping to capture the enormous contrasts of the landscape. In the end though screenwriter Sam Shepard persuaded the German director to base the core of the movie in Texas as this could easily represent the U.S. as a whole.
It's rather unusual to see America through the eyes of a European film crew. The film has a slow, observant quality that contrasts sharply with prevailing American dramas where constant close-ups try to make you feel more involved with the characters. In 'Paris, Texas', Wenders lets the quality of the acting speak for itself without recourse to sentimentality.
The last part of the film was unscripted and tends to drag a bit, but Stanton's understated performance keeps you glued to the screen as the story unfolds. Ry Cooder's score adds a traditional American soundtrack that somehow manages to be something much more ethereal. A poigniant score that colours the film's theme of hope and longing.
on January 11, 2010
Paris,Texas is a masterpiece, period. Before I first saw that movie in the 80's, I was very skeptical about the ability of an european team to make a decent road movie in the american desert. After the viewing, I was in a state of shock and I can still feel that tremor today when I show Paris, Texas to some selected friends. Having it in DVD today is a great privilege.
on December 22, 2003
Suppose you had lost everything you ever wanted, and it was your own fault. How would you try to get it back? That's the situation facing Travis, who deals with his loss by starting over--literally, tracing his life back to the place where he was conceived. As the story unfolds, Travis realizes that you can't always get everything back...but sometimes, if you're willing to pay the price, you can make up for past mistakes.
It's not a flashy movie. But if you have the patience to sit and watch it, you'll be left with a feeling of being overwhelmed by the quiet drama of life that the movie holds. I hope it comes out on DVD soon. And that music...wow.
on July 19, 2004
I really wanted to like this movie, but the movie wouldn't let me. Sorry to disagree with everyone, but this movie is a real stinker. I gave it 2 stars for the music and the cinematography. To call this movie slow is the understatement of the year ... it moves like a sedated tortoise. I really can't understand those people who say that this is the best film they have ever seen ... they can't have seen many films. I have been watching films seriously for about 30 years, and have seen many great ones ... but this ain't one of them.
"Okay, wise guy, you didn't like it. Why?" First of all, let me say that the first part, when the main character interacts with his brother, brother's wife, and his kid (who has been raised by his brother), is far better than the end, when he and his son search for his wife. They find her in Houston by waiting outside a bank and following her car (why not try the phone book first?). Then, unexplainably, Travis leaves the kid with her while he takes off again (going to Paris, Texas? Does he intend to come back?). This, after spending much time re-establishing a relationship with his boy. I'm not one that demands happy endings, but I do like endings that make some sort of sense. I hear that much of the ending was unscripted, and it shows.
Dramas require tension, whether between characters or in the plot ("don't ever open the green door!"). This movie has none, which is a primary reason why it is so terminally dull. Travis (Stanton) is a complex character, but is never fully revealed, and although we may feel sorry for him and his condition, he remains simply a screwed up individual.
Dramas also require some kind of contrast. There is very little of that in the film in any respect.
Great dramas usually have great dialogue. Don't look for any memorable dialogue here. I don't expect Shakespeare, but the totally mundane, inane dialogue in this picture does not serve it well. Shepherd could have done better. And the director must have been watching too many Antonioni films, with all the pauses and lacunae.
Acting? Stockwell, as usual, does a good job. Stanton is mute for much of the first part of the film. When he does finally talk, his lines are delivered in a monotone that could put anyone to sleep. Kinski, Travis' wife, is gorgeous, but doesn't have much of a role.
I recently viewed "Scarecrow" with Gene Hackman and Al Pacino. This is a truly fine drama. "Paris, Texas" could have been a very good drama, but it would have taken a lot of tinkering.