Gracefully slow-moving, much like the flow of the course of life, what Wim Wenders creates and presents in Paris, Texas is one of the most beautifully moving tales that I’ve come across in my whole life so far. Yet reviewing the film was always a struggle, for I get a different perspective on it every time I watch it, but one mutual link between all viewings is that I always come out satisfied. And it’s not merely being satisfied to the degree it’s only a good film, because something as astonishingly gorgeous as this means so much more. Paris, Texas only grows to captivate me more upon each revisit, and it’s a feeling I can’t possibly describe any better. A feeling that comes only from experiencing the power left behind by Paris, Texas and not merely from alone just watching the film take place on the screen.
The very core of Wenders’s film is its humanistic ideal – a protagonist whose life has been overrun with heartbreak wandering in the desert for four years, to be found by his brother. There’s a line of isolation which is then broken from the reintroduction to his own son, and it’s absolutely touching beyond words. We have a broken family, a member is forgotten, and I get a hint that reminds myself of a piece by Yasujiro Ozu. Immediately I think of Tokyo Story, we have a broken family that only grows more impacted by the reintroduction of someone who once was a part of their life, and it’s only to grow more moving from there.
Films like this move rather slowly, but that is how life flows. While slow, never is it boring, it’s only more hypnotizing through such gorgeous imagery from Robby Müller’s cinematography and just the overall humanism that Wim Wenders creates for such a film. Watching Paris, Texas reminds me of the beauty of life, and it draws me in more and more as it keeps going. By the time it was over, it was something I grew close enough to, to the very degree that it was something almost impossible to let go of. Life is full of memories that stick inside the head permanently, and because of how we try to hide even the deepest secrets away, they end up breaking us emotionally, much like it did Wim Wenders’s characters in here.
Harry Dean Stanton is wonderful as the isolated Travis, a man setting out for discovery and it’s one of the most moving performances I have ever seen. Dean Stockwell and Aurore Clement also rise as the brother and his wife, who attempt to bring him back, but there are two more supporting performances in particular that grab my eye. They are those of Nastassja Kinski and Hunter Carson. Nastassja, not only a gorgeous woman but a very shattered individual in this performance, because in her scene, we can see she is sheltered by the other side of a wall, but as she lets the other side come in, there’s a sense in which we realize that we indeed are sheltered as beings, and we refuse to let the other side in. Hunter Carson’s performance was one that also moved me, as there’s a linkage formed amongst this broken family that he helps in resolving, from the acceptance that Travis is his father.
Then to discuss the ending, what we have here is an ideal that what once was broken is to remain broken. Travis is brought back into the family, as a means of mending pieces together, then at the very end, we see he drives off to a place of no certainty. It is clear he has established a goal of his own, but even then, he has only shattered the people he loves most. The very lack of certainty just gives off a tone that I simply cannot describe with words, but there’s an emotion I very distinctly feel, and even such is too difficult for thought. It is rather difficult especially when there is an impact created that will at some point turn indescribable.
Paris, Texas is a shattering film, one that only continues to mystify me when I think about it more. It resembles life, especially when it is in such a shattered state. Yet the simplicity rings so much to one like myself, it’s only all the more moving. There’s a very degree to which we are all very isolated within our lives, but some thought comes in about what happens when we try to break that barrier, and I wonder, how come I have never tried so hard enough? To merely call Paris, Texas a beautiful film understates everything which it stands for. The feeling of heartbreak and isolation has never shattered me so much up until Paris, Texas made me realize there are many things I try to hide away. I probably have rambled a bunch of indulgent nonsense again, but the sort of impact from Paris, Texas indeed called for such rambling.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Janus Films.
Directed by Wim Wenders
Screenplay by L. M. Kit Carson, from a script by Sam Shepard
Produced by Don Guest
Starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, Aurore Clement, Hunter Carson
Release Year: 1984
Running Time: 145 minutes