Paris, Texas

Epic but intimate, PARIS, TEXAS combines the European sensibility of director Wim Wenders with the expansive locations of the American West. Amid the desert and brilliant sky of Big Bend, Texas, Travis Clay Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) aimlessly wanders under the boiling sun. He stops in a tavern and promptly collapses, awakening in the care of a German...read more

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Epic but intimate, PARIS, TEXAS combines the European sensibility of director Wim Wenders with the expansive locations of the American West.

Amid the desert and brilliant sky of Big Bend, Texas, Travis Clay Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) aimlessly wanders under the boiling sun. He stops in a tavern and promptly collapses, awakening in the care of a German doctor (Bernhard Wicki). Assuming the catatonic Travis is mute, the doctor calls

a number in his wallet and reaches Travis's brother, Walt (Dean Stockwell), who lives in Los Angeles with his French wife (Aurore Clement) and Hunter (Hunter Carson), Travis's seven-year-old son by his estranged wife, Jane (Nastassia Kinski). It turns out Travis has been missing and assumed dead

for four years. Walt brings him back to L.A. for a reunion with Hunter, who subsequently joins his father on a quixotic quest for family, true love, and Jane.

PARIS, TEXAS features neither sweeping themes, grandiose sets, nor a cast of thousands, but from its opening shots one senses its uniquely epic quality. The vast landscapes recall those of John Ford, but instead of John Wayne it's Stanton who wanders across the frame, a modern American father in

suit and tie, displaced, aimless, and emotionally dead, on an odyssey to find himself. He knows where he began--in Paris, Texas--but not where he is going. Although based on stories by Sam Shepard, the film's vision of America is wholly that of Wenders, a German director deeply fascinated by

Americana. As the title suggests, Wenders' America is a by-product of the European imagination.

Superbly scripted, the film features wonderful performances from all its major players. Equally brilliant, especially in a film that emphasizes script and character, is the cinematography by Robby Muller, perfectly capturing the notion of "America." A final factor in PARIS, TEXAS's success is the

remarkably haunting score by blues musician Ry Cooder.

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