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"Paris, Texas" {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Criterion
Release Date:
Special Features:

See Below


I wouldn't recommend "Paris, Texas" as a blind buy but if you are a fan of the film this is the ultimate edition compared to the arid DVDs that have appeared before. If you've never seen the movie you may want to rent it first to see if it's to your taste; Wim Wenders' film blends European style filmmaking with an almost literary approach to a story about a man who mysteriously disappears and then, suddenly, pops up gradually resuming his old identity and life. It's a mystery without a conclusion that doesn't focus on the why or how but on the journey back to self discovery. As such, the deliberate pacing may not be to everyone's taste but if you can appreciate the film the performances are brilliant particularly Harry Dean Stanton who must play a man that contains all of his guilt, doubts and emotions. If you can appreciate the films of Terence Malick ("Badlands", "Days of Heaven", "The New World" and "The Thin Red Line") you'll enjoy Wenders work which, at least superifically, has much in common with Malick's work. ***

"Paris, Texas" comes across as the visual equivalent of a tone poem; Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) mysteriously shows up after 4 years in the desert. Travis would claim to remember nothing about his past if he would speak--everyone assumes he's mute until they are able to contact his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell) who with his wife has been raising Travis' son Hunter (Hunter Carson) as his own. Travis has returned to rediscover his life and undo the past as best he can including locating his estranged wife Jane (Natassja Kinski)who disappeared sending Travis on his own lost journey into Hades. ***

Based on stories written by actor/playwright Sam Shepard, adapted by L. M. "Kit" Carson and directed by German director Wim Wenders ("Wings of Desire", "The American Friend", "Buena Vista Social Club")"Paris, Texas" makes the landscape as much a character as those we are following in the film. Having said that, this film is acquired taste with a pace more in keeping with later indie films (and, in fact, the feel of "Paris, Texas" has much in common with the films that Terence Malick made at the time and continues to make)--it's much more a mediative piece on the loss of self, memory and Travis' attempt to reclaim what is lost after trauma. ---

Image & Sound:

The Criterion edition features a stunning looking HD transfer (at one point you can see vultures circling over prey in the distance). There is a depth only hinted at on previous transfers, colors pop and the film has been scrubbed of flaws. Ry Cooder's marvelous score has never sounded so good with a rich sounding lossless presentation. ---

Special Features:

The special features (which are always a highlight of Criterion editions)are exceptional: we get excerpts from a 1990 documentary on Wenders featuring interviews with a wide variety of admirers and collaborators from Peter Falk to novelist Patricia Highsmith (who wrote "The American Friend"); an interview with Wenders, new video interviews; a 1984 French TV special about Wenders' work; deleted scenes and super 8 home movies from the film are also included and we get a gallery of Wenders' scouting location photos. The original theatrical trailer is included plus we get an excellent audio commentary from Wenders, behind the scene photos and a booklet with critic Nick Roddick's essay on the film as well as vintage interviews with Shepard, Kinski, Stockwell.

Final Words:

For fans of "Paris, Texas" the Criterion edition is the standard on Blu-ray (and DVD). The film has never looked better nor has it ever received such a lovingly detailed history on its production. Highly recommended.


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