German pioneer Wim Wenders directed several acclaimed masterpieces over the course of a fascinating career, emerging as one of the primary figures in the New German Cinema movement. Known for his iconic works such as Wings of Desire and Alice in the Cities among others, Wenders has influenced several generations of filmmakers.
Among the people who drew inspiration from Wenders’ works, Jim Jarmusch stands out because of his ardent admiration for the German auteur. In fact, Jarmusch’s 1984 gem Stranger than Paradise was heavily influenced by the famous Road Movie trilogy by Wenders which has been cited as one of the greatest of its genre.
However, one particular Wim Wenders film moved Jarmusch so much that he penned a personal letter to the filmmaker in order to thank him for the sublime experience. That was none other than Wenders’ most famous film – Paris, Texas – which ended up winning the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Festival.
Read the letter below:
“Your film is one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in a long, long time. I just wanted to tell you that it had a very strong effect on me. Congratulations for such a beautiful work. Also – the cinematography is amazing. Robby [Müller] is, I feel, the greatest living cinematographer. I hope I can see you sometime, here in Cannes. Thanks for Paris, Texas.
“(J. Jarmusch \\ 99.45.31 Cannes)”
Paris, Texas is a hauntingly beautiful exploration of the disintegrating concept of a family and the journey of a man to pick up the fragments of his broken life. Harry Dean Stanton delivers the performance of his life as Travis, a troubled man who embarks on a heartbreaking journey across the vast expanses of the country.
Talking about the narrative structure in an interview, Wenders said: “That’s what made me like the story, the direction from the beginning—a very straight line. For once I was making a movie that wasn’t meandering all over the place. That’s what Sam brought to this movie of mine as an American writer: forward movement, which is very American in a way.”
Each and every element of Paris, Texas is magical, ranging from the acting to the mesmerising cinematography of Robby Müller. Wenders’ vision of America is truly unique, capturing the densely-packed urban jungles as beautifully as the emptiness of other areas. Ry Cooder’s brilliant score is still named among the best film soundtracks ever produced.
Wenders added: “There was no other music because there was no need for it. Ry did what I was dreaming he could do: combine. In all my other films there was both rock and roll and the score. They complemented each other, but there were these two different levels of music. In Paris, Texas there is one, and that one is so much closer to all the images than any music I’ve worked with before. It’s almost as if the music is coming out of these landscapes.”