Paris, Texas (1984) from Tuna

Paris, Texas (1984) is a joint German-French film directed by Wim Winders and written by Winders and Sam Shepard. It came about because the two wanted to collaborate on a film. They started with an idea about a mute near-catatonic man who wanders into a small Texas border town, and does not remember who he is or how he got there. The man, played by Harry Dean Stanton, does not speak for the entire first act. Based on a card he had in his wallet, the locals locate his brother, who comes down to bring him home to Los Angeles. He has being missing for years.

This was as far as they got before casting, because they felt they needed to know what the characters really were all about before finishing the story.

We slowly learn that the man's wife is also missing, and that they had a son who has been raised by his brother and his brother's wife (Aurore Clément). Turns out the missing wife has been sending a monthly deposit into an account for their son from a Texas bank. After being rehabilitated by his brother, and making friends with his son, he takes his son to go find his wife. He finds her working in a rather unsavory job in a peep booth. Finally, we are treated to a lengthy expository scene, where he tells the wife exactly what happened and why.


The only exposure is a brief side view of Aurore Clément's right breast.

The film has a European pace. In other words, it creeps along. That doesn't matter much for, although it has a thin plot and little pace, it is riveting as a character-driven drama, and is a highly acclaimed film. The photography is spectacular, the acting is superb, and Nastassja Kinski is absolutely gorgeous as the missing wife. The score consists of eerie bottle neck guitar music played by Ry Cooder.  I was disappointed by the use of a long monologue at the end, but, overall, remained involved the entire running time of 147 minutes.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert 4/4.

  • Wim Wenders won the BAFTA (British academy award) for the best director of 1984, and the film was nominated for three other BAFTA awards. It was also nominated by the French academy for the best foreign film Cesar.

The People Vote ...

  • The Numbers. It grossed $2 million in an arthouse release in November of 1984.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a B-. Even if you don't normally like character-driven drama and slow pacing, you might enjoy this one.

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