Friday, June 3, 2011

Paris, Texas: A Love Affair Between A Boy And A Movie...And A Boy And A Girl

When I was a sophomore in college I saw the film Paris, Texas (1984). It quickly became my favorite film (tied with Blade Runner (1982)) of all time.The movie is directed by German New Wave pioneer, Wim Wenders and stars Harry Dean Stanton, Dean Stockwell, and Nastassja Kinski. The film opens with a wandering wide-shot of the vast, craggy landscape. The camera wanders along until it finds our main character, Travis (Stanton). Travis' clothes are raggedy, his face sunburned and wrinkled. Travis is walking towards, or away from, something--we just don't know what. Soon after, Travis passes out near a doctors office and his brother Walt (Stockwell) is called to pick him up. It's been four years since the brothers have seen each other. From that point on the film follows Travis as he pieces back together his life.

I stumbled upon Paris, Texas in a bit of a peculiar way. I was bored one night and I was watching interviews with my favorite musicians, in this case The Hold Steady. The bassist listed his favorite films, two of which I loved (A History of Violence (2005) and Videodrome (1983)). Then he mentioned that his favorite film was Paris, Texas, so I casually put it at the top of my netflix queue. When it came in the mail, I invited this girl, Lia (you all know the one) over to my apartment to watch it. We had planned to watch the movie in my living room, but alas, my roommate Quinn was watching Alien 3 (1992), so Lia and I had to change to my bedroom. If this sounds like a sly trick, you would be wrong.

Let me take the time to explain what consisted of my apartment bedroom. There was a mattress on the floor in the corner, a dog house with a two year-old Dalmatian-Lab mix inside, a desk with a crappy laptop, and a crappy TV sitting on a barely standing crappy table, oh and a beach chair. Not exactly ideal conditions for wooing. We started the film, regardless the conditions, as well as my dog's insistence that she lay on the bed and watch as well.

We were transfixed, something in the film clicked in both me and Lia's brains. We both got it and talked all night (after she went home of course) about what we loved about it.

Fast forward a year. Lia and I are dating, she is studying in France and I am juggling a few summer jobs. Because of the time difference we only get to talk on the phone at really odd hours--so of course communication was limited. She did however tell me that she had a surprise for me when she gets home and that I wasn't going to believe it. She had found, at a random used record store in Athens, Greece, the Paris, Texas soundtrack. What are the odds? (By the way, I consider the score to Paris, Texas to be the ABSOLUTE best score to a movie ever--this is including all of John Williams' stuff)

Today, Lia and I are married, and we have two copies of Paris, Texas, one on DVD and one on Blu-Ray. It truly has become a part of our lives. I've always felt that art can change you. And I mean this in the most literal sense. What if we had watched the film in the living room, perhaps a better, but certainly less intimate location? What if I had never caught the interview with the bassist from The Hold Steady? Would our lives be the same? Maybe, but who knows. I always thought the connections we make through movies are important, I just never thought (though maybe I should have) that they would lead me to the most beautiful and important person in my life.

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