Paris, Texas. 1984. USA. Directed by Wim Wenders. 148 min.
Screenplay by Sam Shepard, adapted by L. M. Kit Carson. With Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, Hunter Carson. Winner of the 1984 Palme d’Or at Cannes, Paris, Texas is a road movie like no other, a meditation on the American West that is at once mythic and vernacular. The film’s stark, spare dialogue, written by Sam Shepard and L. M. Kit Carson, is perfectly keyed to Ry Cooder’s haunting slide-guitar score and Robby Müller’s cinematography, which recalls the paintings of Edward Hopper and the 1970s New Topographics photography of Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz. Played with a laconic intensity by Harry Dean Stanton, Travis Henderson is one of Shepard’s most poignant creations, the distant stranger trying to make right as he travels across the unforgiving Texas desert, a landscape of dusty gas stations and flickering neon, to reconnect in Los Angeles with a son he hasn’t seen in years (Hunter Carson), and then on to Houston in search of his estranged wife (Kinski). The film culminates in a set of iconic monologues between the erstwhile lovers that take place on either side of a peepshow booth; though separated by a one-way mirror and cheap insulation, they see each other with a despairing clarity. New digital restoration.