He is one of those films that defies the test of time and whose beautiful images mark the spectators’ retina for a long time. Paris, Texas is a parenthesis, an invitation to escape necessary, if not essential, during this period of confinement. It is therefore no coincidence that the work of Wim Wenders is broadcast this Monday, April 13, at 8:50 pm, on France 5. Auréolé of the prestigious Palme d’Or during the 37th edition of the Cannes Festival, in 1984, the film continues to fascinate and inspire crowds as its poetry and emotion remain intact.
Written by actor and writer Sam Shepard, the story begins in the wilderness of West Texas, where a tall figure wanders like a ghost in the middle of arid land. Wearing a red cap and wearing a tattered suit, the wanderer (Harry Dean Stanton) arrives in a bar, without a word, before collapsing from fatigue. The man, whose name has been vanished for four years, will be joined by his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell), who has come to pick him up and bring him back to California. If the first contacts are difficult, the dialogue will very quickly be reborn between the two individuals. To correct the mistakes of his past, the former disappeared will have no choice but to reconnect to his previous life, by finding his young son, Hunter (Hunter Carson), now eight years old, and leaving for looking for her mother, Jane (Nastassja Kinski).
Paris, Texas is a family drama apart. This singularity is due to the staging of Wim Wenders and the work of Robby Müller, the director of photography. Each of his plans is comparable to the millimeter work of a painter – like Edward Hopper, some of whose paintings combine the resemblances with the images of the Dutch cinematographer. The shots are wide, often empty, mixing different colors, from the light of petrol stations to the gradation of the sky, mainly filmed during twilight. There is also a very strong contrast between the Texas countryside and the imposing highways and structures of Huston, in which the characters get lost. The aesthetics of the film give the story a unique aura, between dream and melancholy. How not to mention also the hypnotic music of Ry Cooper, which accompanies, very gently, the many car trips of the protagonists.
Never tearful, Paris, Texas finds the strength of his emotion thanks to the immense performances of his actors, starting with Harry Dean Stanton, who plays here the role of his career. The performer offers an immersion in the broken life of a man in search of love and redemption. Mute during the first part of the film, the character will gradually reveal himself and win the hearts of spectators by trying to pick up the many fragments of his past. Around him, Dean Stockwell and Aurore Clément are poignant in the shoes of a couple who had to take the son of the disappeared under their wings.
Only eight years old at the time of filming, the young Hunter Carson, on the other hand, impresses with his accuracy and his naturalness in front of the camera. Last face to appear on the screen, that of Nastassja Kinski, who manages, in just a few scenes, to offer the feature film its most beautiful moments, some of whose images have become iconic today. Of a rare delicacy, magic Paris, Texas works more than ever and could be one of the best antidotes to alleviate the gloom of these complicated times.
To get you in the mood, (re) discover the musical theme of “Paris, Texas”: