Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone. I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don't know what to say.

No 392 - Paris, Texas
Director - Wim Wenders

I began my journey with this film as a mildly confused man, I thought I had a basic idea of what the film was about, but that didn't connect to LOVEFiLM's categorisation of this as a documentary. But then I saw that the film starred Dean Stockwell, so I cheered up and settled in.
Well, firstly it very much isn't a documentary. Secondly, it doesn't really star Dean Stockwell either.
The film really stars Harry Dean Stanton, as Dean Stockwell's brother. A man who has lost his memory and goes on a journey which helps him rediscover his family but also himself. Whilst that mind sound a little unimpressive, please accept that I'm being deliberately vague. This is a beautiful film, and it is through the simple journey which we get to have some real powerful emotion. However, before I speak about that (as it is the end of the film) I want to speak about the film's palette.
As the name implies, this film has large sections set in Texas, and therefore large sections set in desert country. It means that once again we get to marvel in the glory of Orange and Teal, creating bleak, hospitable and enormous vistas. However, even outside the desert, the framing is beautiful - Robby Müller manages to find really exciting ways to paint the most potentially mundane moments. I can't find them anywhere to link to, but his use of colour and lighting during the two brothers' drive is beautiful, and the framing is near perfect.

What I can talk about is the moment Travis (Dean Stanton) meets up with his estranged wife. Again, it benefits from the same beautiful use of colour - however this time we're in a much deeper blues. It does show Müller's excellent eye for framing though:

But here, not only do we get the power of the visuals - we get the power from the fact that this is the film's climax. This is what everything has been building to. I don't want to talk about it in too much detail because I don't want to dull the impact to anyone who hasn't seen it. But the final half hour is one of the most emotional and powerful things I've ever seen put on film.

There is something about the visuals, the story and the lazy guitar score (of which you heard some in the video above) that just mix to make a very slow, very gentle film with an truly surprising and powerful end.
that mix meant Paris, Texas became one of a very few films which have caused me to cry.