Wim Wenders’ haunting modern American western is reimagined in a stunning new print.

Reviews by Joyce Glaser Paris Texas (Reprinted July 29, 2022) Cert 12A, 145 min.

Curzon Cinema’s Wim Wenders season began in early July with an extended run from 1987 wings of longing. It ends with an extended run around the Palme d’Or Paris Texas(with a magnificent reprint). Paris Texas was shot in just five weeks in 1983, mostly on locations in west Texas, in those years when the German director, who was fascinated by American cinema while studying art in Paris, wanted a unique perspective on the American landscape, the people, the music and the folklore threw . What is more American than the fusion of a road movie and a western, especially one like John Ford’s 1956 The Seekersmust a lonely man roam Texas in search of his kidnapped niece?

If you saw the film when it was first released and don’t remember anything else, you might remember an unshaven Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) walking through the streets in a dusty, tattered suit and a red beanie Desert walked while a vulture eyed his last gulp of water. Arriving at a small compound and helping himself to ice cream in the freezer, he collapses and is treated by a hairy German doctor (Bernhard Wicki).

When the Traveler (note the name Trav) comes to, he is mute and without memory. The doctor calls a number in the man’s pocket and speaks to his amazed brother Walt (Dean Stockwell), who lives in Los Angeles with his French wife Anne (Aurore Clement). Anne’s first thought is what to tell Hunter (Hunter Carson), who we learn is Travis’ seven-year-old son. He has lived with the otherwise childless couple for four years, since his estranged mother Jane (Nastassja Kinski) confided in them. “Tell him the truth,” says Walt.

Walt arrives exhausted at the seedy clinic in Terlingua (population 110), only to find that Travis left that morning and Walt has to pay the bill. Walt finds his brother wandering the desert and manages to get him in the car, but Travis says nothing. Travis comes out of a motel where they stop and gives Walt a slip when he goes into town to buy his brother some new clothes. They are reunited.

Then Walt asks Travis if he remembers Hunter. He says they unofficially adopted him since they couldn’t find him or Jane. Suddenly, Travis’ memory comes back. “Paris,” he says. ‘Can we go there?’ Believing Travis is referring to Paris, France, he jokes that it’s a bit out of the way. Travis holds a map of Texas.

When they drop off the rental car at the airport, Travis refuses to fly and exits the plane as it is about to take off on the runway. Walt is upset that he’ll lose two more workdays on the return trip, and to make matters worse, Travis insists they rent the same rental car from a confused rental clerk (Claresie Mobley).

As they drive west across the country, Travis shows Walt a photo of a nondescript empty lot in Paris, Texas. Travis can’t remember why he bought the property, but later in the film we learn that Travis was conceived here. The local joke came from her father, who told people his ordinary wife was from Paris, leading them to believe she was a “chic woman” from France.

The middle part takes place in LA. Travis tries to adjust to this new but temporary life and reestablish a relationship with Hunter, who is initially suspicious of his father and ashamed of being with him. After watching home videos of the two couples on a beach vacation at the age of three, Hunter becomes closer to his father. In a touching moment, he says “Good night, dad” to both men. When Anne tells Travis that Jane Hunter is sending money from a Houston bank on the first Wednesday of every month, Travis makes the decision to find his estranged wife.

In the third part of the film, Travis drives across the country to Houston, this time with Hunter, who tells his father that he wants to go with him to find his mother – even if it means not saying goodbye to his foster parents. Travis must have taken the fact that Jane was sending Hunter money as a sign that they needed to be reunited. At this point, we still don’t know what Travis did to break up the once happy family, but we’re finding out.

Walt and Anne are distraught when they hear the news, but don’t call the police. Wenders leaves us to ponder the moral issue of Travis’ decision, which affects the lives of four other people, of whom he has only consulted one, a seven-year-old.

Wenders (whose road movies include Wrong move, kings of the street and Alice in the Cities), draws on atmospheric cinematography by Wenders regular Robby Muller, plaintive guitar score by Ry Cooder, and a screenplay by Sam Shepard and actor-turned-producer-turned-screenwriter LM Kit Carson (Hunter’s real-life father, with actress Karen Black) . his vision. You know you’re getting a modern western full of pictures and feel like everyone is looking.

From the start, the endless highways and railroad tracks provide the backdrop for Travis’ wanderings and Walt’s driving. It is no coincidence that the stability Anne and Walt have given Hunter is precarious. Your comfortable home is poised on the steep slope of a hill above a main thoroughfare and overlooks an airport runway.

At the end of the journey is the Meridian Hotel, Houston, which offers a dizzying view of the city and its streets to everywhere (an inspirational image perhaps for 2003 Lost in translation). In a cutscene, Walt and Travis stand high above the street at one of Walt’s billboards, billboards with pictures of coveted objects and places. On the side of the peep show building where Jane works is a graffiti image of the Statue of Liberty, reminding us that Wenders, like the German doctor and Walt’s French wife Anne, are part of the American melting pot.

And while the Paris Texas Imagination is not as neat as one would like, the film was like The Seekers, always about the search for the girl, even if her job is as disappointing as it is questionable, and the peep show is more David Lynch than Wim Wenders. Travis’ father had to invent an exotic image of his ordinary, hardworking wife, while Travis could never believe that his beautiful, much younger, exotic wife would remain faithful to him. His misinterpretation of his wife is a self-fulfilling prophecy that has ruined many lives, though, like John Wayne, he becomes a self-sacrificing hero who must roam alone. While the acting is sensational (Hunter Carson an intuitive child actor who never lived up to his promise), the lack of chemistry between Stanton and Kinski detracts from the emotional impact of a memorable ending.

Wim Wenders’ haunting modern American western is reimagined in a stunning new print.

Source link Wim Wenders’ haunting modern American western is reimagined in a stunning new print.

Back to top button