Art & Photography / Who, What, Why

Behind The Screen: Paris, Texas

We revisit cult classic Paris Texas ahead of of its screening at Somerset House next week...

Nastassja Kinski as Jane Henderson in Paris Texas (1984)
Nastassja Kinski as Jane Henderson in Paris Texas (1984)

Who? Wim Wenders, Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski – the three main stars of 1984 film Paris, Texas.

What? There are a number of reasons why Paris Texas is a brilliant film. It is striking in its simplicity, charting the journey of an amnesiac (Stanton) – from his walk across a vast South Texas desert landscape to his US highway cruises and gas station and motel stops, en route with his young son to find his former wife (Kinksi). Its distinctive slide-guitar score, composed by Ry Cooder and based on Blind Willie Johnson's Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground is the perfect accompaniment to the poignant, moving and gripping story. Its aesthetic is remarkable; highlighting the same Americana that mesmerised the likes of Ed Ruscha and William Eggleston. Arguably, the standout scene comes towards the end, its success attributed to the screenplay, set and costume design. A blonde-haired Kinksi, working in a striptease club, wearing a red mohair jumper, sat in front of a one-way mirror.

Why? The film is one of the subjects of Somerset House's summer Behind The Screen series. On Wednesday August 22, a special panel discussion, includling Wim Wenders specialist Jason Wood, will take place prior to the screening of the award-winning cult classic.

For tickets to Behind The Screen: Paris, Texas visit here.

Text by Laura Bradley