Personal Style Icons: The Hendersons
Then he ran. He never looked back at the fire. He just ran. He ran until the sun came up, then he couldn’t run any further. And when the sun went down, he ran again. For five days he ran like this…until every sign of man had disappeared.
More Halloween inspiration?
The origins of Paris, Texas lay in one of those earlier American films: his failed attempt, under the not-always-benign aegis of Francis Ford Coppola, to convert New German into New Hollywood with Hammett, which took up five years of his life and was finally released in 1982. Wenders had wanted Sam Shepard for the title role of that film; the studio said no (its default response throughout the making of Hammett). But the two stayed in touch. The first inklings of their eventual collaboration came in a screenplay Wenders wrote based on Shepard’s Motel Chronicles. The final script, however, was an entirely fresh start, with Shepard’s epic sense of the American West finding perfect expression in dialogue whose rhythms are at just the slightest of removes from everyday speech. The final telephone-and-mirror scene between Travis and Jane is one of his best, and if there is one thing that holds at bay the sentimentality that occasionally threatens to creep in, it is Shepard’s language.
In Paris, Texas, there are no borders, and Wenders’s exhilaration is palpable. When Travis’s fear of flying gets him and his brother thrown off a plane and he insists they drive to Los Angeles, you can almost sense Wenders punch the air and say “Yes!”: they’re on the road again. Even that troublesome border a few hundred miles to the south doesn’t really seem to have had any meaning for Travis: from what we can gather in the opening scenes, he has simply walked across it back into the United States. I guess you could do that then. But Mexico and the desert have one thing in common in American culture: they are places people go when they want to get lost. And Travis, in the film’s wonderful, soaring opening shots, is clearly a man who would rather stay lost.
Possibly one of my favorite shots of one my favorite scenes ever.
The painful part, with Sam’s writing, was to understand how to do it. Because you don’t have to act his writing. Finally, Wim said, “Don’t act these lines. You just say them, like poetry, say it with a meter,” and that’s what Natassja and I tried to do at the end, just say the lines. That’s the problem, I think, with people who do Sam’s plays. They try to act it, and his writing you don’t act. You don’t even have to motivate it if you can just be simple, because all that needs to be said is in the writing.