Taglines: A place for dreams. A place for heartbreak. A place to pick up the pieces.
Travis Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) is walking alone across a vast South Texas desert landscape. Looking for water, he enters a saloon and collapses. He is treated by a doctor (Bernhard Wicki), but does not speak or respond to questions. The doctor finds a phone number on Travis, calls the Los Angeles number, and reaches his brother, Walt Henderson (Dean Stockwell), who agrees to pick him up.
When Walt arrives in Texas, he discovers that Travis is gone. When he finds him wandering alone, Walt tells his silent brother that he will take him back to Los Angeles. They stop at a motel, but Travis wanders off again. Walt finds him, and the two drive to a diner, where Walt begins to question the still silent Travis more forcefully about his disappearance. Walt and his wife, Anne (Aurore Clément), have not heard from Travis in four years. After Travis abandoned his son Hunter (Hunter Carson), Walt and Anne took care of him for four years. Travis is visibly moved by the mention of his son, and tears flow from his eyes.
Travis finally breaks his silence when he is looking at a map and remarks “Paris,” talking about how he’d like to go there, although Walt mistakenly thinks that he is talking about France, telling him that it is a little out of the way. When Travis refuses to fly, Walt rents a car, and the brothers begin a two-day road trip back to Los Angeles. The next day, as the two brothers continue their journey, Travis shows Walt a weathered photograph of a vacant lot. He explains that he purchased the property in Paris, Texas, a town he believes is the place where he was conceived, based on a story told by their mother.
When they arrive in Los Angeles, Travis meets Anne and the son whom he abandoned four years earlier. Hunter is uncomfortable around this stranger who is his father. Walt shows some old home movies, hoping to evoke good memories and help break the ice between the father and son. The movies show Travis with his wife, Jane (Nastassja Kinski), and their young son, sharing a day at the beach.
In the coming days, the relationship between Travis and his son slowly grows, and a bond of trust between the two starts to develop. Anne tells Travis that although she has not heard from Hunter’s mother for a long time, she still deposits money into a bank account for her son on the same day each month. She reveals the name of the bank in Houston, where the deposits are made. Travis becomes determined to find his lost wife, and when he tells his son that he plans to travel to Houston to find his mother, the boy says he will accompany him.
Travis and Hunter leave for Texas without telling Walt and Anne. During their journey, Travis and Hunter grow closer, with Hunter sharing things he learned in school, and Travis sharing his memories. When they arrive in Houston on the expected day of deposit, Hunter spots his mother leaving the bank. They follow her to a parking lot of a peep show club.
Paris, Texas is a 1984 drama film directed by Wim Wenders and starring Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, Nastassja Kinski, and Hunter Carson. The screenplay was written by L.M. Kit Carson and playwright Sam Shepard, and the distinctive musical score was composed by Ry Cooder. The cinematography was by Robby Müller. The film was a co-production between companies in France and West Germany, and was filmed in the United States.
The plot focuses on an amnesiac (Harry Dean Stanton) who, after mysteriously wandering out of the desert, attempts to reconnect with his brother (Dean Stockwell) and seven-year-old son (Carson). He and his son end up embarking on a voyage through the American Southwest to track down his long-missing wife (Nastassja Kinski).
The film unanimously won the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival from the official jury, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. The film has been released on DVD and Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection.
Paris, Texas (1984)
Directed by: Wim Wenders
Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell, Aurore Clément, Claresie Mobley, Hunter Carson, Edward Fayton, Justin Hogg
Screenplay by: L.M. Kit Carson, Sam Shepard
Cinematography by: Robby Müller
Film Editing by: Peter Przygodda
Costume Design by: Birgitta Bjerke
Art Direction by: Kate Altman
Music by: Ry Cooder
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 9, 1984