They don’t make movies like Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas” anymore. The 1984 critically acclaimed drama starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, and Nastassja Kinski is a relic of time gone by; both in its subject matter and its style. With a run time of nearly 190 minutes, “Paris, Texas” delves into self-isolation and the fragility of the stoic male. It’s a classic.
The arthouse Western follows Travis Henderson, a disheveled amnesiac who wanders out of the Mojave desert one morning. After being reunited with his brother, Travis must put the pieces of his life back together; pieces that involve an 8 year old son and an estranged wife. In the backdrop of rural and urban Texas, Travis must confront his internal strife if he wants to return as the father and husband he once was.
Film critics define “Paris,Texas” as a “slow-burn,” and they’re not wrong. The film is sedentary, moving in small, bite sized pieces and some scenes are upwards of 15 minutes long. The pacing lends itself to the intimacy of the film, but modern audiences certainly might find “Paris, Texas” too slow and perhaps not exciting by today’s standards. Yet, cinephiles of any generation can still find so much to love in this film.
Rural Texas is no stranger to filmmaking, but its perhaps best captured in “Paris, Texas.” Cinematographer Robby Müller creates a visual landscape that revels in its melancholy. Long, wide shots of Travis walking behind the Mojave Desert look like computer screensavers, filled with breathtaking greens and gorgeous oranges. The interior shots are equally great, and the infamous scene between Travis and his wife contains one of the best reflection shots in film history.
Movies like “Paris,Texas” aren’t produced anymore, especially in mainstream Hollywood. And for good reason, most audiences can’t and won’t sit through a 190 minute film unless Captain America and Thanos are flying across the screen. That being said, the film is definitely worth a watch. It’s beautiful, emotional, and if nothing else, an exercise in patience.