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Film / Paris, Texas

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"I wanted to see him so bad that I didn't even dare imagine him anymore."

Paris, Texas is a 1984 film by German filmmaker Wim Wenders. It stars Harry Dean Stanton (in a rare leading man role), Dean Stockwell and Nastassja Kinski.

Set in the vast Mojave desert, the film tells the story of Travis, a man found aimlessly wondering the empty roads while suffering from memory loss; he is found by his brother and sister-in-law, who proceed to attempt to reunite him with his seven-year-old son, Hunter, who he hasn't seen in four years. Upon regaining his memory and bonding with his son, Travis decides to go looking for the boy's mother, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Paris, Texas contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Travis suffers from loss of memory which he successively recovers from. He is afraid of flying and displays some autistic behavior when insisting to continue their road trip in the same car they had before. The exact nature of his disorder is never revealed though.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The walkie-talkies Hunter wants for the ride come in handy when they split out to look for Jane at the bank. Later Travis uses one to record a message to Hunter.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Travis imagined that Jane was seeing other men when he was working. He became abusive to her because of that.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The film takes its time revealing what exactly had happened between the seemingly happy couple of Travis and Jane. It turns out he was abusive towards her and kept her locked in their home, and when she escaped, she tried to burn him alive along with the rest of the house.
  • Destructive Romance: Travis and Jane. They loved each other, but in the end Travis locked Jane up in their trailer, Jane escaped and set fire to the trailer, while Travis was sleeping inside.
  • Domestic Abuse: Travis was abusive with Jane when they were in a relationship. In the end, he locked Jane up in their trailer.
  • Easy Amnesia: Travis has some sort of memory loss at the start of the film, which goes away and is never mentioned again after he spends some time with his family and watches old homemade films.
  • Elective Mute: In the beginning, Travis does not say a word, because of a psychological trauma. After he spends some time with his brother, he starts talking.
  • The End Is Nigh: The lunatic on the bridge spouting off about the evils of the world.
  • Happier Home Movie: Travis watches a home movie of the time he and Jane were still together.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Travis hits a pub after his first encounter with Jane.
  • "London, England" Syndrome: Played straight with the movie title but subverted in-universe. A man is going around with a photograph telling people it is of Paris, even though it is clear that the photo shows a desert landscape. Incidentally, the real Paris, Texas looks nothing like what is shown in the photo. Paris, Texas the movie is shot in the deserts of West Texas, which is all rugged desert, while Paris, Texas the city is in East Texas, which is mostly grass plains and forest.
  • May–December Romance: Travis is over 35 years Jane senior, if not more. It'd be difficult to call it a romance though. Many viewers have reported being irritated by the age gap being too unrealistic.
  • Mysterious Past: It is never quite explained what Travis has been doing on his own for four years, or how he wound up walking around, nearly dehydrated, in the middle of the desert.
  • Never Trust a Title: None of the film actually takes place in Paris, Texas, though the town is repeatedly mentioned in dialogue and acts as a recurring thematic motif.
  • Old Flame: In the end, Travis finds his ex-lover Jane. They are both very moved, which shows that they still have feelings for each other. Subverted, because they also realize that it is not possible to get back together, and Travis decides to go away.
  • The Oner: The last scene in the stripper booth where Jane talks about her experience is done in one take of 8 minutes.
  • The One That Got Away: Jane. At the beginning of the film she's been missing for four years, with the majority of Travis' actions being motivated by his memories of her and desire to reconnect. Travis finds her in the end.
  • Parental Abandonment: Hunter's parents have disappeared for four years at the start of the movie. Subverted because his dad is found at the beginning of the movie. In the end, he is reunited with his mother again. Double subverted, because his father then leaves him again.
  • Parental Substitute: Walt and Anne adopt their nephew Hunter after his parents have disappeared. Hunter calls them dad and mom.
  • The Place: Paris, Texas. Though we never get to visit the place.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Jane and the other Sexy Nurse stripper mention that they are used just listen to their customers.
  • Precious Photo: Travis kept a photo of himself and Jane which he later bestows to his son.
  • Regional Riff: The film is set in Texas and the entire soundtrack consists of country-style slide guitar, courtesy of one Ry Cooder.
  • Road Trip Plot: A quintessential one. Travis travel across West Texas and Southern California. Ironically though, they never actually reach Paris.
  • Shout-Out: Hunter is a big fan of Star Wars. He says that the home movie was made "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." There are also Star Wars pillows in his bedroom.
  • Thirsty Desert: Travis collapses out of dehydration after crossing the dessert at the beginning.
  • Title Drop: Several. First time it's Walt in the car when seeing the picture of the lot Travis bought.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Nastassja Kinski doesn't quite master her character's Texan accent, and periodically lapses back into her native German one, creating a kind of weird hybrid dialect that's impossible to pin down. It's more noticeable than it would be otherwise since she's the only one in the film with any notable accent whatsoever, except Anne, Walt's very French wife.