Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Paris, Texas (1984)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Paris, Texas (1984, US/Fr./W.Germ.)

In director Wim Wenders' road movie drama, with the tagline: "a place for dreams, a place for heartbreak, a place to pick up the pieces":

  • the music of Ry Cooder accompanying the quest by dazed, amnesiac wanderer Travis Clay Henderson (Harry Dean Stanton) lost for four years - during the film's opening credits, he stumbled through and out of the Southwestern Texas desert, and ended up in a clinic in Terlingua, Texas
  • after his brother Walt Henderson (Dean Stockwell) was contacted in Los Angeles, Walt decided to drive to Texas and retrieve his "mute" brother; he told him about fearing him dead over the previous four years, but Travis didn't respond: ("Would you mind telling me where you disappeared to for the last four years? Uh, have you seen Jane? Or talk to her? Gee, Anne and I uh, we sort of gave up on you, we actually, we thought you were dead, boy")
  • at a diner, Walt also described how he and his wife Anne (Aurore Clément) had adopted Travis' now 7 year-old son Hunter (Hunter Carlson), when both Travis and his estranged wife Jane (Nastassja Kinski) went missing ("Travis, do you remember your little boy, Hunter? Well, he's with us. He's been living with Anne and me ever since you disappeared. We didn't know what else to do. So, we just kept him. One day, he was just standing at the door. All he could tell us was that someone brought him there in a car. He didn't know what'd happened to you, or Jane. So we tried everything we could think of to find you, or Jane. Tried to locate her, she'd vanished too. We didn't know what else to do")
Walt with Travis in Texas
Travis Requesting a Trip to Paris
Picture of Paris, TX and Travis' Vacant Lot
  • but then, suddenly after a long period of silence, Travis made a strange request: "Did you ever go to Paris?...Could we go there now?" - he wasn't referring to France, but to a small town in Texas (seen in a picture) where he owned a vacant lot bought when he was married - he believed he had been born there: ("Mama once told me that uh, that's where she and Daddy first made love...So I figured that that's where I-I have began")
  • upon arrival in Los Angeles, Travis became better acquainted with Hunter after watching Super 8 home movies of everyone together five years earlier on the Texas coast (when Hunter was three), and looking at an old photo album of family pictures
Super 8 Home Movies of Travis with Young Hunter
and Everyone Together, Including a Loving Jane with Travis
  • Anne revealed to Travis that a year earlier (and the last time there was contact), Jane called and requested to have a bank account opened for Hunter; in Houston, once a month, she would make wire deposits into the account for Hunter's future: ("She goes to this bank on the 5th of each month and wires money for Hunter....Sometimes a hundred dollars, sometimes fifty, or five. For Hunter's future. I had the bank trace the wire. It comes from a bank in Houston")
  • to locate and reconcile with Jane, Travis drove back to Texas (with a eager and cooperative Hunter who also wanted to find his Mom); on the drive, Hunter speculated about the Big Bang and the formation of the Earth: ("This whole galaxy, the whole universe, used to be compressed into a tiny spot this big. And, and you know what happened?... It went pfew and blew up....the Earth just formed into one hard big ball of ocean. Nothing but ocean. So, there are sea animals. And under the water, volcano went pfew! And the hot lava hit the water and formed rock to make land")
  • in Houston, Texas, Travis (with Hunter's assistance) located his separated wife Jane at a drive-in of the bank, and followed her from there to her sex industry job; as Hunter waited in the truck, Travis entered the upper-floor bar area and caught a glimpse of Jane; in the lower-floor peep-show booth area, he requested her by phone: "I want to see a blonde girl, with kind of short, straight hair, about 25 years old" - finally, he was united with her in her peep-show booth job on the other side of a one-way mirror (she couldn't see him)
  • Travis was silent for many minutes as she asked patiently: "Is there something I can do for you?"; he first spoke when he declined to have her remove her pinkish-red sweater, and then told her: "I don't want anything...I wanna talk to you"; she asked: "Is there something you want to tell me?...You can tell me, I can keep a secret"; she added that she mostly talked and listened to clients; he wondered: "What else do you do?"; she laughed nervously: "We're not allowed to see the customers out of here...We're not allowed to have any outside relationships with the customers"; he snapped back: "You can go home with them if you want to. All these places say that. I mean, how much extra money do you make? How much money do you make on the side?"; when she suggested that he talk to one of the other girls, he refused; she added: "I just don't think I'm the one you want to talk to," but she remained in the room when he urged her not to go. After she agreed to listen to him ("Relax and tell me what's on your mind. I'll listen... to you. I don't mind listening. I do it all the time"), he quietly got up and left the booth without her knowing.
  • the bravura scene of their second long conversation, when Travis delivered an 8-minute "I knew these people" monologue, a summation of their own life together, first happy and then evolving into an abusive and hateful relationship - ("I knew these people. These two people. They were in love with each other. The girl was very young, about 17 or 18, I guess. And the guy was quite a bit older. He was kind of raggedy and wild. And she was very beautiful, you know. And together they turned everything into a kind of adventure. And she liked that...."); Jane was unable to see him, until she realized that he was describing their life in his story - their images overlapped or melted together and then separated, followed by the climactic moment when she turned off the light in her room so she could view him and recognize him
Second One-Way Mirror Conversation
  • the heartbreaking conclusion of their talk - estranged father Travis volunteered to return Hunter to Jane in his downtown Houston Meridian Hotel room, #1520 ("He needs you now, Jane, and he wants to see you...He's waiting for you"); she picked up her son inside the hotel room, while Travis watched from afar in the parking lot, and then drove away with tears flowing down his cheeks; he had earlier stated that he believed Hunter would be best served by being with his mother ("I know that now. You belong together with your mother")

Travis Henderson Stumbling in Texas Desert

Travis' Brother Walt Henderson (Dean Stockwell) in LA

Anne Henderson
(Aurore Clément)

Travis' Son Hunter Meeting His Dad After Many Years

During Road Trip - Hunter Speculating on the Big Bang Theory and the Creation of Earth

First View of Jane at Bar in Strip Club

First Visit - Peep Show Booth Reunion Scene

Hunter Reunited with Jane in The Hotel Room

Travis Watching And Driving Off From Parking Lot


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