Wim Wender's very pleasurable Paris, Texas (1984) is both an American movie and a European film. Its creative pedigree is mixed - all through the credits: the German Wenders as director, the American Sam Shepard as writer; the German Robby Müller as cinematographer, the American Ry Cooder as composer/performer of the music; the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central Henderson brothers, the French Aurore Clément and the German Nastassia Kinski as their wives. For Wenders, a long-time lover of the Western and of American rock music, it was, as he has since told the French magazine Positif, the closing of a circle, the completion of his preoccupation with the USA. The last piece in his (embarrassingly titled) Emotion Pictures is a long, troubled free-verse meditation on 'The American Dream', written in 1984, in which he deplores the perversion of American ideals by what he calls the 'state philosophy of "entertainment" '. As in his exploration of the German condition in Kings of the Road (1976) - where his pair of heroes are the son of a small-town printer and a travelling cinema engineer, intimates of past and present cultural technologies - Wenders unobtrusively loads the two Henderson brothers with implications, makes the contrast between them richly suggestive.
LRB 8 March 1990 | PDF Download