Two takes on Paris,Texas

paris,texas#2Without a doubt, Paris,Texas is one of my favourite films; and has stayed in the top three of a list that has changed considerably over the years. The protagonist, Travis, springs to mind as one of Jed McKenna’s ‘Break-Out Archetypes’: a character burnt up by an initiatory fire who emerges changed and resolute in his pursuit of what must needs be done. The following quotation is taken from one of the most powerful scenes in the film, where Travis talks to Jane via the intercom in the rather surreal setting of a themed strip-joint booth. His single purpose, it transpires, is to enable a reunion of Jane with their son, Hunter; and Travis crosses a desert of penitential oblivion to achieve this goal.

And he was surprised at himself,
because he didn’t feel anything anymore.
All he wanted to do was sleep.
For the first time
he wished he were far away,
lost in a deep vast country
where nobody knew him.
Somewhere without language
or streets.
And he dreamed about this place
without knowing its name;
and when he woke up
he was on fire.
There were blue flames burning
the sheets of his bed.
He ran through the flames
toward the only two people he loved,
but they were gone.
His arms were burning
and he threw himself outside
and rolled on the wet ground.
Then he ran.
He never looked back at the fire,
he just ran.
He ran until the sun came up
and 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.

from Paris,Texas (1988)
Written by Sam Shepard,
adaptation by L.M. Kit Carson.
Directed by Wim Wenders.

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