Paris, Texas (1984)

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Released 12-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Awards
Notes-Soundtrack CD
Trailer-Beau Travail; Betty Blue; Mullet
Trailer-The Bank; Amores Perros
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 138:46 (Case: 150)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Wim Wenders
Studio
Distributor
Road Movies
Madman Entertainment
Starring Harry Dean Stanton
Natassja Kinski
Dean Stockwell
Aurore Clement
Case Click
RPI $34.95 Music Ry Cooder


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, dialogue reference and merchandise for Star Wars
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Paris, Texas is a fascinating film from acclaimed German director Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Buena Vista Social Club) that has attained "cult movie" status over the years. It received critical acclaim when it was originally released in 1984 and won several noteworthy awards, including the prestigious Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival and the British Academy (BAFTA ) award for Best Direction.

    Back when I was an impressionable student at Sydney University, I used to listen to the "Ambience" programme on JJJ-FM regularly, and the most often played music on that program was the haunting soundtrack to the film by guitarist Ry Cooder. I used to think that the film must be something special to deserve a soundtrack like that, and I'm happy to report that it is.

    The film starts with Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) walking around in the Texan desert wilderness in a raggedy suit and tie. Stumbling into a small town, he collapses from thirst. Travis is completely disoriented, with no memory of his past or where he is going, and seems to have lost the power of speech. The local doctor treating him goes through his personal belongings to try and find a clue to his identity. A business card in his wallet turns out to be that of his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell).

    We then find out that Travis has been missing and presumed dead for four years. He walked out on his wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski) and son Hunter (Hunter Carson) under mysterious circumstances and basically has been on a walkabout for the past four years. Jane has also disappeared and Walt and his wife Anne (Aurore Clément) has been taking care of Hunter ever since.

    Walt flies to Texas from LA to take Harry back with him. After some interesting episodes, Travis starts talking again and slowly integrates back into normal life. The scenes were Travis is reunited with his son Hunter and a relationship gradually re-establishes between them are quite touching. The last half of the film is about father and son driving to Houston in search of Jane. I won't reveal what happens next, but despite the slow pace the film is quite compelling and mesmerising to watch.

    The film is replete with powerful symbolism and imagery. Travis is a modern day Odysseus sailing through the vast, desolate empty space of America in search of his soul and he yearns to return back to the memory of a happy marriage. The film features quirky performances from all the actors, including Nastassja performing with an almost flawless Texan accent. Interestingly, the film is shot roughly in the chronological order of the storyline. Wim Wenders and screenwriter Sam Shepard kind of made up the plot as they went along, which helps explain the surreal nature of some of the scenes and dialogue.

    I found both an official site as well as a fan site containing information on the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a non 16x9 enhanced widescreen letterboxed transfer presented in approximately 1.66:1 (original aspect ratio supposedly 1.75:1 according to "Film Art" by Bordwell & Thompson).

    The film source is definitely showing its age. Sharpness and detail are mediocre and shadow detail is rather poor, although thankfully black levels are pretty good. Colour saturation is good but colours are generally bloomy reflecting the poor condition of the film print.

    Fortunately, I did not detect many instances of film-to-video artefacts in what looks like a composite telecine transfer, apart from slight colour smearing and some aliasing.

    There are no subtitles on this single sided dual layered disc. The layer change occurs at 78:49 and is mildly annoying as there is a minor pause in the middle of a scene.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kb/s) . Given that the original film release was in mono, I was surprised to find that the audio track is definitely in stereo, although the stereo is mostly only noticeable in the background music. Foley effects did not seem to be highly directional, so I suspect this is a remixed audio track from a mono original.

    Although the transfer will not win any awards for audio excellence, it is pleasant to listen to and the quality is consistent with that of an analogue optical track for a film print. Dialogue is reasonably clear and easy to understand. Although I occasionally detected what seemed to be slight dialogue mis-syncs, in general audio synchronisation is not an issue.

    As noted before, the background music by Ry Cooder is quite special and suits the film rather well.

    Needless to say, the rear surround channels and subwoofer are not engaged.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Given that the disc has been authored and released by an independent DVD production house (Madman) and distributor (AV Channel), some attempt has been made to generate some extras to include on the disc, but most of these are stills containing text as well as some trailers. It will be interesting to see what extras will be included in the special edition currently being produced under the direction of Wim Wenders.

    None of the menu items or extras are 16x9 enhanced.

Menu

    The menu features intro, animation, and background audio. The quality of the video and audio transfer for the menu is far superior to the film itself.

Theatrical Trailer (2:02)

    This is also presented in 1.66:1 and the quality of the video and audio transfer is similar to that for the main feature.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    This features short biographies (presented as a set of stills) for Wim Wenders, Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski. Interestingly, the biographies for Wim Wenders and Nastassja Kinski lead on to interviews/articles which are presented as a text on a sequence of stills.

Awards

    This is a single still listing awards bestowed on the film.

Notes-Soundtrack CD

    This is a single still providing the album cover and track listing for the soundtrack album.

Trailers-Beau Travail (1:20); Betty Blue (1:43); Mullet (1:57), The Bank (1:58); Amores Perros (2:08)

    Apart from Mullet, which is presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed, all the trailers are presented in 1.66:1 letterboxed. The video transfer quality of the Australian films (Mullet and The Bank) exhibit significantly better quality than the rest.

DVD Credits

    This is a single still providing credits for the DVD authors and production crew. It is displayed at the end of the main feature.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only other DVD releases of this title that I can find are a Japanese Region 2 version and an Argentinean Region 4 version. Director Wim Wenders is reportedly working on a special edition of the DVD to be released in the future. For the time being, the local disc (which is actually not region coded) is probably as good a version of this film as you are going to get if you are a fan.

Summary

    Paris, Texas is a film from acclaimed director Wim Wenders that truly deserves its "cult movie" status. It is presented on a DVD with acceptable video and audio transfers, together with a sprinkling of extras (mostly text information on stills).

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, September 17, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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