Directed by Wim Wenders (The American Friend (1977)) and written by L.M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard. It has an immersive and quite distinctive score composed by Ry Cooder. The beautiful cinematography was by Robby Müller (The American Friend (1977)).
The film stars Harry Dean Stanton (The Wrong Man (1956), Farewell, My Lovely (1975), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Inland Empire (2006)), Dean Stockwell (The Arnelo Affair (1947), Compulsion (1959), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Blue Velvet (1986)), Nastassja Kinski (Inland Empire (2006)), Bernhard Wicki, Aurore Clément, and Hunter Carson.
|Devil's Graveyard, West Texas|
He comes to in Terlingua, Texas, in a doctor's clinic (Wicki). He does not answer the doctor's questions, he acts mute. Is he an amnesiac, or just another ornery desert rat? The doctor checks his personal effects. A business card with the name Walt Henderson (Stockwell) and a Los Angeles phone number is found. A call is made. Walt confirms the man is his, four year missing and presumed dead, older brother Travis.
|Dr. Ulmer (Wicki)|
|Anne (Clément,) and Walt (Stockwell)|
On the road Travis clams up to Walt's friendly interrogations. Walt and Travis stop at some roadside cabins for the night. When Walt goes back into town to get Travis some new clothes he ghosts again for the high lonesome. Another quick search finds Travis loping down the railroad tracks headed for nowhere. At an all night diner Walt tells Travis that Hunter his son is now living with him, that Jane his wife, dropped him off after Travis disappeared.
Travis finally comes out of his post traumatic trance like state and speaks, and it's seemingly cryptic. He mentions Paris, that he wants to go to Paris. Not France but Paris, Texas, and the empty lot where mom told him he was conceived. It's as if getting back there to ground zero he can start over with a clean slate. In fits and starts we begin to see the whole picture. Walt and his wife Anne ( Clement) live in Los Angeles with Travis's son Hunter (Carson). Hunter was dropped off by Jane (Kinski), who was finding it difficult to take care of him on her own. Jane still deposits various amounts money every month in an account for Hunter.
|Travis and Hunter bonding|
|Going to Houston to look for his mom|
|Travis and Hunter heading to Houston|
Travis tells Hunter to stay in the ranchero and lock the doors. The peepshow consists of various booths that are labeled Pool, Hotel, Diner, et., etc., for whatever erotic fantasy gets your kink on. The girls sit behind a two way mirror and the patrons speak to them over a phone asking them to comply with their requests. Travis going in the back door at first goes to the lounge upstairs and spots Jane wearing a pink dress. Before he can approach her he is ushered away by a pimp. Travis goes into a booth and requests a blond, but another girl shows up dressed as a nurse.
He tries another booth and this time Jane shows up. Their first interaction is awkward, Travis asks if Jane ever screws any of her customers, he wants to know if its cash for gash. She says she doesn't.
Travis is asking because it's a subject that hits pretty close to the original reason their marriage went nuclear. Travis is a jealous man. He leaves the booth gets in the Ranchero with Hunter and splits, heading down the highway. They get about a hundred miles before Travis stops in some one horse town and proceeds to get hammered in the fly speck's Broadway Bar closing the place down. Travis is shitfaced. Hunter supports him and they make their wobbly way to the all night laundry across the street and crash in the lounge.
|The Broadway Bar|
|crashing at the all night laundry lounge|
"I knew these people. These two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was very young, about 17 or 18, I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful, you know. And together they turned everything into a kind of adventure. And she liked that. Just an ordinary trip down to the grocery store was full of adventure. They were always laughing at stupid things. He liked to make her laugh, and they didn’t much care for anything else because all they wanted to do was be with each other. They were always together…Yes, they were, they were real happy. And he, he loved her more than he ever felt possible.
He couldn’t stand being away from her during the day when he went to work. So he’d quit, just to be home with her. Then he’d get another job when the money ran out, and then he’d quit again. But pretty soon, she started to worry. Money, I guess. Not having enough. Not knowing when the next check was coming in. So he started to get kind of torn inside. Well, he knew he had to work to support her, but he couldn’t stand being away from her either. And the more he was away from her, the crazier he got, except now, he got really crazy. He started imagining all kinds of things. He started thinking that she was seeing other men on the sly. He’d come home from work and accuse her of spending the day with somebody else. He’d yell at her and break things in the trailer. Yes, they lived in a trailer home…
Anyway, he started to drink real bad, and he’d stay out late to test her, to see if she’d get jealous. He wanted her to get jealous, but she didn’t. She just worried about him but that got him even madder…because he thought if she never got jealous about him, that she didn’t really care about him. Jealousy was a sign of her love for him. And then one night, one night, she told him that she was pregnant. She was about three or four months pregnant. And he didn’t even know, and then suddenly everything changed. He stopped drinking and got a steady job. He was convinced that she loved him now, because she was carrying his child. And he was going to dedicate himself to making a home for her.
But a funny thing started to happen…He didn’t even notice it at first. She started to change. From the day the baby was born, she began to get irritated with everything around her. She got mad at everything. Even the baby seemed to be an injustice to her. He kept trying to make everything all right for her. Buy her things. Take her out to dinner once a week. But nothing seemed to satisfy her. For two years, he struggled to pull them back together like they were when they first met, but finally he knew that it was never gonna work out. So he hit the bottle again. But this time it got mean. This time, when he came home late at night, she wasn’t worried about him, or jealous, she was just enraged. She accused him of holding her captive by making her have a baby. She told him that she dreamed about escaping. That was all she dreamed about: escape. She saw herself at night running naked down a highway, running across fields, running down riverbeds, always running. And always, just when she was about to get away, he’d be there. He would stop her somehow. He would just appear and stop her. And when she told him these dreams, he believed them. He knew she had to be stopped or she’d leave him forever.
And when he woke up, he was on fire. There were blue flames burning the sheets of his bed. He ran through the flames toward the only two people he loved, but they were gone. His arms were burning, and he threw himself outside and rolled on the wet ground. Then he ran. He never looked back at the fire. He just ran. He ran until the sun came up and he couldn’t run any further. And when the sun went down, he ran again. For five days he ran like this until every sign of man had disappeared."
It's one of the great monologues in cinema history.
A bonus sampling of Ry Cooder's opening track for Paris, Texas with some excellent accompanying images below, enjoy.