Paris, Texas | A Continuous Lean.

Paris, Texas

Aug 4th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Film | by Michael Williams

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: 31

31 Comments to “Paris, Texas”

  1. Sean
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 10:38 AM

    Love me some Nastassja Kinski.

  2. Turling
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 10:40 AM

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

  3. Michael Williams
    on Aug 4th, 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?

  4. Sean
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 10:57 AM

    “Cabazon Dinosaurs” –

    They had driven back into Cali when they hit those.

  5. Michael Williams
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 10:59 AM

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

  6. James
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 11:04 AM

    My man. Amazing movie.

  7. Joe
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 11:11 AM

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

  8. jfox/10e
    on Aug 4th, 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…”

  9. Louis
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 11:20 AM

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

  10. lauren
    on Aug 4th, 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

  11. James
    on Aug 4th, 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.

  12. That's Not My Age
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 1:31 PM

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

  13. Lonny
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 2:49 PM

    it streams on netflix as well.

  14. Michael Williams
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 3:03 PM

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

  15. Tintin
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 4:03 PM

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

  16. Lizzie
    on Aug 4th, 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

  17. Sinuhe
    on Aug 4th, 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…

  18. Mike
    on Aug 4th, 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

  19. Ted
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 9:22 PM

    Harry Dean is the Man!

  20. BP
    on Aug 4th, 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

  21. MR
    on Aug 4th, 2010
    @ 10:52 PM

    Directed by Wim Wenders. ‘Nuff said .

  22. calabreezy
    on Aug 5th, 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.

  23. spencerque
    on Aug 5th, 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.

  24. JES
    on Aug 5th, 2010
    @ 8:31 PM

    Written by Sam Shepard.

  25. ramirez
    on Aug 6th, 2010
    @ 10:30 PM

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

  26. CWW
    on Aug 7th, 2010
    @ 9:25 AM

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

  27. Uwe
    on Aug 9th, 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.

  28. Pascaline
    on Aug 10th, 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…

  29. francisco
    on Aug 13th, 2010
    @ 5:00 PM

    master work; makes those USA lands interesting.

  30. rebekah
    on Aug 18th, 2010
    @ 11:37 AM

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

  31. Tinderbox
    on Aug 27th, 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.