Harry Dean Stanton
Travis remains mute, until he utters that first word to his brother, Walt: “Paris.” He asks to go. “It’s a little out of the way,” Walt replies. Travis means Paris, Texas, which he deduces is the town he was conceived. Instead, they go to Los Angeles, a city of many soul’s misguided rebirths. It’s there where Walt (Dean Stockwell) lives with his wife (Aurore Clément) and Travis’ son, Hunter (Hunter Carson), who has a head of blonde hair like his mother.
Much of what follows is, in the broadest sense, a road movie, with Travis (Harry Dean Stanton in his best performance) and Hunter embarking in a pickup truck to locate Jane (Nastassja Kinski) who, you figure out from the promotional art, plays a significant role in the film.
For the first two hours of Paris, Texas, we wonder why Travis needs to see Jane. To apologize? To stitch their wounds? To seek advice? Even a personal moment between Travis and 8mm home movies reveals nothing. Nor will this review, except to say that the curtain is pulled in one of the greatest monologues ever penned (by screenwriter Sam Shepard), delivered through a two-way mirror in a shady peep show booth.
Paris, Texas stands as Wim Wenders’ masterpiece, an organic and beautiful narrative about being found and lost, accentuated by a hypnotizing Ry Cooder score. This is a film about journeys: the one with Walt and Travis back to civilization; the one with Travis and Hunter to Jane; the one of Travis and Jane’s love and destruction; and the countless travels Travis has taken and will take.
When I’m asked what my favorite film is, I, like any true film geek, round off at least twenty without catching my breath. One of the first is always Paris, Texas. Anyone who appreciates what it says or leaves mute could never ask, "Why?" That would spoil the strongest connection made.
Interview with Wim Wenders (28:59): This 2001 interview conducted by journalist Roger Willemsen features Wenders discussing Paris, Texas (calling it a “great love story”), with focus on the style, the character of Travis, and screenwriter Shepard.
The Road to Paris, Texas (42:42) is paved with interviews (conducted in 1989) with cast/crew such as Wenders, composer Ry Cooder, and actor Harry Dean Stanton, as well as Dennis Hopper, Samuel Fuller, and author Patricia Highsmith. This piece is a fascinating collection of insight from many renowned figures, who go into length about Wenders’ work.
Claire Denis (20:28) and Allison Anders (25:15): Both women (Denis served as first assistant director, while Anders was a production assistant), now filmmakers themselves, reflect on their time working on Paris, Texas in these 2009 interviews. Denis sits with critic Kent Jones while Anders occasionally reads excerpts from the journal she kept on the set.
Cinéma Cinémas (12:20): This episode of the French television program, titled “Wim Wenders Hollywood April ‘84,” features footage of Wenders and composer Cooder in the studio working on the score for Paris, Texas.
Deleted Scenes (23:38) and Super 8 (7:00): The former offers several discarded scenes, while the latter contains extended footage from the Super 8 home movies seen in the film. The deleted scenes are presented with an optional commentary by Wenders, while the Super 8 footage can be accompanied by Travis’s monologue.
Also included on this disc are Galleries and a Trailer.
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 44-page booklet with an essay titled “On the Road Again” by critic/journalist Nick Roddick, interviews with Sam Shepard, Nastassja Kinski, and Dean Stockwell, and an excerpt from the preface of Wenders’ book of photographs, “Written in the West.”