Friday, December 14, 2007

15. Paris, Texas


It is among the loneliest opening shots in film history. After a red on black credits crawl set to the eerie strains of Ry Cooder's haunting score, we are suddenly given an impossibly bright and soaring long wide shot of an abandoned planet.
The camera pans quickly over the dried up and destroyed caverns of rock and dust as though it is flying without wings. This landscape might be a destroyed earth in the future or perhaps just some sad forgotten land deserted by a very angry God.
In the distance we see a figure moving. The camera moves in closer and we see it is a man. He is walking. He is alone. The aching slide guitar that fills the soundtrack becomes louder as our point of view switches to a lone eagle perched on high. Like us, he is watching this strange and solitary figure who is walking over this very barren landscape.
Then we are given a close up of the man. He stops as if to let us study his face. We've seen him before in many other films...but never like this. He's clearly exhausted, bearded and impossibly thin. His clothes are tattered and only a sad bright red hat on his forehead separates his figure from the ruins around him. The hat stands out against the bright blue sky behind him as he struggles to find a drop of water in an empty milk container he is clutching onto. Near Motionlessly he puts the cap back on it and drops it on the ground. The sound seems to signal the music to get louder and even lonelier, as our lost figure who is now in the distance again continues walking.
Where he is from we don't know. Where he is going we don't know...but we have to follow. Not because we want to necessarily, but perhaps because we have to. For, in these striking opening moments of PARIS, TEXAS director Wim Wender's photographed not just a desert landscape but the interior of loneliness itself...and we understand that to truly escape it, we must follow it...

My full review of PARIS, TEXAS will be posted here sometime in the future...