American drama from 1984
Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, Natassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell
Director: Wim Wenders
Writers: L. M. Kit Carson, Sam Shepard
Travis Henderson walks out of the desert and with that reappears after four years absence. He reconnects with his brother, Walt Henderson and his son Hunter Henderson. Travis and Hunter eventually go looking for Hunters mother, Jane Henderson who has been away for about the same amount of time as Travis.
“Paris, Texas” is utter ass drivel, or the kind of slow seeping diarrhea that signifies the end stages of several different diseases. I thought it had many redeeming qualities, and was simply a slightly boring story through most of it. Then came the ending, and it leaves me no option but to declare the whole movie idiotic.
I haven’t seen this movie before but I was looking forward to seeing the 80’s again. And as such this movie didn’t disappoint. There was smoking on a commercial flight, phone boxes, no safety belts in cars, rotary phones and much more.
As a highlight of the 80’s look back was the Star Wars fandom of Hunter (the son). The movie was released in 84, and was then maybe made in 83, the year “Star Wars episode VI: Return of the Jedi” was released, and Star Wars fandom was shiny and new. I am a fan of Star Wars myself, and appreciated the bed sheets and other little Star Wars toys.
The movie in general moved a little bit slowly, but not so that I was bored or had to tie my hands not to fiddle with my phone. There were several funny and enjoyable scenes, maybe especially the opening when Travis walks out of the desert.
A man in a dusty and worn suit walks through the desert and finishes his water. He comes to a broken down and filthy shack or house of some kind. There is no water in the tap on the side of the wall. He walks in and goes behind a counter. In the fridge there is nothing. Finally, he sees an ice machine and eats some ice. He then keels over, seemingly unconscious. The camera pans out a little and we see that there is a man in the old shop, sitting at a table. Obviously just having stared at Travis’s search for water. A funny little scene.
There are several such minor gems in the movie. However, it is far from enough to save it.
Throughout the movie all the acting, camera work and sound was superb. Nothing to complain about. Especially Harry Dean Stanton as Travis Henderson was a great performance. Again all this wonder is not enough. And it is all down to the story.
Travis gets picked up by his brother after he has recovered a little at a doctors office or small hospital, and the brother takes him back to LA where he lives. I found the journey the two brothers take together to be reminiscent of the journey in “Rainman”, and the two brothers build more of a relationship on the car ride.
Back in LA, we meet Hunter, Travis’s son, and Travis’s sister in law, Anne, who has been a mother for Hunter in the years he has been missing.
There be spoilers after this.
Travis quickly reconnects with his son, and Anne becomes worried that she will loose her little boy. These are two of the minor weaknesses of the story.
Hunter becomes reconnected with his father very easily and quickly. It seems fairy-tale fast.
Anne, and her husband, both feel as if they are Hunter’s parents, and especially Anne worries about the loss of her child. However this becomes a static part of the story. We see her worry, and then she and her husband isn’t a part of the story anymore. There is no resolution or journey for these two characters. Simply a statement of their feelings at one point. And it gave me a feeling that these two were characters and not people. It tore me out of the story.
Next, Hunter and Travis go on their own road trip to find Hunters mother, Jane. This journey is also sweet and allows the characters to become connected with one another. Then they find Jane, and the story completely falls apart. It no longer has much of a tie to reality.
Up until this point in the movie, I had some minor complaints, but nothing important, and most of the cinematic craft and acting made up for any minor flaws or annoyances.
Jane works in a sex booth establishment where men go into a booth and can watch and talk to a woman on the other side of a one way window. Travis goes into the booth of his wife and finally we get the story of why the two disappeared.
Travis became terribly jealous and beat and imprisoned Jane. He tells the story of how the two of them fell in love, how his jealousy was simply a part of how much he loved her and that is where all the beatings and other abuse came from.
Fair enough, it is about time the viewers get a little more of this story, and Travis needing to lighten his heart seems, well, at least not completely unnatural.
However, Jane’s reaction is in no way in any contact with reality. In stead of reacting with fear or anger when she realizes that it is her husband on the other side of the glass, she cries softly. It seems she is, of all the weird things, grateful to find out that the abuse came from love.
Her reaction seems to say: “Well, if you hit me and imprisoned me because you loved me I can now move on with my life and not have this degrading job anymore. I am so grateful that you came back and told me. None of what I go through after your abuse is a process, so I will now be free and happy again immediately. Thank you, dear abuser, for freeing me. I am grateful for your sacrifice. What a good and wonderful person you are.”
In other words: utter rubbish.
I am open to the possibility that I have completely misinterpreted this scene, but this is my honest reaction after seeing the movie.
The story has women as distant creatures that only facilitate the journey of men and Jane’s reaction is some sort of insane male fantasy to how women resolve their feelings after an abusive relationship.
I can safely say that I will never watch this movie again. It was a complete waste of my time, not to mention contemptible towards women. A gender can not simply be reduced in such a manner, and declared extras in the other gender’s story. Judgement: worthless.
I would not recommend this movie to anyone. Ever.
Maybe if I wanted to show how not to make a movie.
Over to you
If you’ve recently seen “Paris, Texas” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.
Two movies down. 363 to go.
If you want to get “Paris, Texas” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?
Tomorrow’s movie is “Leon: The Professional“. Maybe it will be a palate cleanser? Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.
Until next time; live long and prosper.