Paris, Texas

Visually, Paris, Texas could be the most American movie ever. I don’t even think the Texas tourism board could make the state look any better than these filmmakers did. Funny thing is, the picture was made by a bunch of Europeans. I suppose people get a better perspective of something when they are on the outside looking in. What’s amazing about this 1984 film is the enduring nature of the style — especially with what is happening in the world today. Worth a watch for inspiration alone. Some of my favorite looks below. [Paris, Texas at the Criterion Collection]

Comments on “Paris, Texas

    Seanon August 4, 2010 @ 10:38 AM:

    Love me some Nastassja Kinski.

    Turlingon August 4, 2010 @ 10:40 AM:

    I’ve seen those dinosaurs, but I didn’t think they were in Texas.

    Michael Williamson August 4, 2010 @ 10:41 AM:

    Half of the movie takes place in Southern California. I think those dinosaurs (Pee Wee’s big adventure anyone?) are in Palm Springs. Or on the way to Palm Springs. Can anyone confirm this?

    Seanon August 4, 2010 @ 10:57 AM:

    “Cabazon Dinosaurs” –

    They had driven back into Cali when they hit those.

    Michael Williamson August 4, 2010 @ 10:59 AM:

    Thanks Sean. They are off I-10 which is what you take from LA to PS.

    Jameson August 4, 2010 @ 11:04 AM:

    My man. Amazing movie.

    Joeon August 4, 2010 @ 11:11 AM:

    Yeah I caught a glimpse of those dinos a couple weeks back on a trip from Big Bear to Phoenix.

    jfox/10eon August 4, 2010 @ 11:14 AM:

    different james. same sentiment. had the soundtrack on nighttime/repeat for about 2 years… the whole dialog at the peepshow, fantastic. “yup, i know that feeling…”

    Louison August 4, 2010 @ 11:20 AM:

    Great soundtrack by Ry Cooder as well. Sparse and beautiful.

    laurenon August 4, 2010 @ 12:22 PM:

    Definitely looks like it was filmed in south Texas near Marfa – not even close to Paris, TX. My grandfather had a ranch in Paris, TX and it did NOT look like that

    Jameson August 4, 2010 @ 12:50 PM:

    Coal Miner’s Daughter, another Tommy Lee Jones pic, also does a great job of capturing and romanticizing Americana. And it’s directed by a Brit. Check out those plaids everyone is wearing at the grange hall. And note how well Loretta Lynn’s father dresses, even when he’s gathering coal from the backyard. Good stuff.

    That's Not My Ageon August 4, 2010 @ 1:31 PM:

    That shot at the bar looks like an Edward Hopper painting, no?

    Lonnyon August 4, 2010 @ 2:49 PM:

    it streams on netflix as well.

    Michael Williamson August 4, 2010 @ 3:03 PM:

    Lauren — they don’t ever actually go to Paris, Texas in the film…

    Tintinon August 4, 2010 @ 4:03 PM:

    Having lived in San Antonio and El Paso I can assure you — Texas ain’t America.

    Lizzieon August 4, 2010 @ 4:11 PM:

    the cinematography itself sort of gives the film its own anomalous geography. and harry dean stanton is just perfect in it. great film

    Sinuheon August 4, 2010 @ 4:26 PM:

    I think that foreign filmmakers tend to have that nuanced eye for capturing America. Where it seems American filmmakers tend to fall back on the cliche’s…

    Mikeon August 4, 2010 @ 4:27 PM:

    Amazing film! One of my absolute faves!

    I studied it for a while in my University days. Most of the Texas scenes are done in and around Big Bend National Park in southern Texas – not far from the border – specifically a town called Marathon

    Tedon August 4, 2010 @ 9:22 PM:

    Harry Dean is the Man!

    BPon August 4, 2010 @ 10:25 PM:

    groan, so boring I quit exactly half way through. As said above, glad it was on NF instant view.

    I’d rather re-watch this

    MRon August 4, 2010 @ 10:52 PM:

    Directed by Wim Wenders. ‘Nuff said .

    calabreezyon August 5, 2010 @ 9:47 AM:

    I’m with BP. Love the cast and really wanted to like this movie. Just a pretentious Euro movie set in the US. Great cinematography, but a total snooze.

    spencerqueon August 5, 2010 @ 10:59 AM:

    I second the beauty of the soundtrack. My dad “lent” it to me on vinyl a decade ago when I went to college, and it has been a personal soundtrack ever since.

    JESon August 5, 2010 @ 8:31 PM:

    Written by Sam Shepard.

    ramirezon August 6, 2010 @ 10:30 PM:

    your leaving comments about the movie paris, texas, without having seen the movie paris, texas?

    CWWon August 7, 2010 @ 9:25 AM:

    The “Lone Cowboy At The Bar” shot: So nice you posted it twice!

    Uweon August 9, 2010 @ 6:00 AM:

    Speaking of “better perspectives”: In his 1980 documentary “Lightning over water” Wim Wenders did the best portrait on once famous but not so much known director Nicolas Ray. Jim Jarmusch has a little role in that too.

    Pascalineon August 10, 2010 @ 3:00 PM:

    This movie is all I was fantasizing about America before going there. Wim Wenders has a great talent to tell stories and show you some landscapes that are reflexions of the characters feelings. These shots are feelings, real locations, my dreamt America and a whole lot of other things for me as a foreigner…

    franciscoon August 13, 2010 @ 5:00 PM:

    master work; makes those USA lands interesting.

    rebekahon August 18, 2010 @ 11:37 AM:

    I recently saw this for the first time and was stunned by how beautiful it is.

    Tinderboxon August 27, 2010 @ 12:15 PM:

    Speaking as a Texas landscape photographer, I’m not sure what tintin means above. That there are large Mexican-American and Mexican populations along I-10 and below is obvious, but “ain’t America” is an exaggeration unless the definition of America is narrow indeed. Texas and Mexico are joined at the hip in love and hate, though Mexico may be the black sheep twin. That kind of cultural relationship is a foreign idea to Americans who haven’t lived near a border and are insulated in modern homogeneity. South Texas may seem foreign to them but there is nothing more American to me than that cultural mixture.

    My problem with “Paris, Texas” is the jarring way that Wenders and cinematographer Robby Müller decided to handle fluorescent lighting, which was to leave it entirely uncorrected, resulting mostly in an extreme radioactive green color cast. This isn’t so bad in exteriors, but they even did it in interiors! An early scene in a doctor/dentists office is so green is looks like a nightclub. I think it calls to much attention to itself for no good story reason.

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