Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

“Paris, Texas is a heartbreaking character study of longing and lacerations of the heart.”
Hillary Weston 

When you blog daily you have to find ways to try to keep it fresh. So the journey that started with Holland, Michigan—The Screenplay, and continued on to  Vernon, Florida yesterday, now leads us to Paris, Texas. The Wim Wender’s directed film from a script by Sam Shepard with L.M. Kit Carson doing some re-writing came out in 1984. Like Tender Mercies that came out the prior year, it was a film that captivated me and moved me in a way that’s hard to explain.

If say 80% of Hollywood movies follow a somewhat similar narrative flow, we can be thankful for filmmakers who fill in some of the other 20% with words and images that defy our normal movie going experience.

“What makes Paris, Texas and all of Wim’s work so special is that it is filled with so much yearning and so much restlessness; people aching so badly to find what it is they’re looking for. They’re all so hungry for love and connection and something to make them feel alive.”
Hillary Weston
Cinematic Panic: Longing Endlessly With Wim Wenders

If you’re drawn to writing less traditional screenplays the one blessing you have is often times actors get tired of being in traditional Hollywood roles and enjoy opportunities that allow them to do something that flexes some of their acting muscles they sometimes don’t use. Harry Dean Stanton acted in more than 100 films before he made Paris, Texas and The Observer quoted him saying of the film , “After all these years, I finally got the part I wanted to play. If I never did another film after Paris, Texas I’d be happy.”

Paris, Texas won the Palme d’Or at 1984 Cannes Film Festival, and the film is now part of The Criterion Collection.

I found a link at the excellent Cinephilla and Beyond that includes an old article by L.M. Kit Carson subtitled Postcards from the Old Man on Paris, Texas that contains this nugget called The Wim Movie Making Method:

“When you make a movie you actually make two movies at the same time. 1) the movie you write and think you’re supposed to make; 2) the movie that comes up, you can’t write it ahead of time, it only comes up from the people gathered when you shoot. The second movie is the true movie, you watch for it and make it.”

Though it’s been a long time since I last saw Paris, Texas,  I do rememeber being impressed with the cinematography of Robby Müller and the music of Ry Cooter.

P.S. Yes, there really is a Paris, Texas  ( “Second Largest Paris in the World.”) and they even have a 70-foot Eiffel Tower replica—which a cowboy hat on top of it.

Scott W. Smith


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“The book came to me in sort of a haze in Harry’s Bar in Venice.”
Ernest Hemingway speaking about writing In Harry’s Bar In Venice
(Not to be confused with the clip below from Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris)

When I was in high school I don’t think I really understood that Ernest Hemingway was a literary giant. But I knew Jimmy Buffett was fond of Hemingway and that was the only sign of approval I needed as a 17-year-old.

When I had to pick a book in my 11th grade American Literature class to do a report on, I naturally—in my youthful wisdom— outsmarted my teacher by picking the thinnest book on my teacher’s list—Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. I’ve been pals with Papa ever since.

When I graduated from film school in California I drove around the country for a couple of months and one of the books I took with me was Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. On that trip I went out of my way to drive through Ketchum, Idaho where Hemingway killed himself in 1961. While I lived in Florida I toured his Key West house that’s open to the public and where he wrote To Have and Have Not. (If I recall correctly, they said his custom in Key West was to swim early in the morning and write standing up from 8AM until noon.)

Once on a flight to London for a shoot I read Hemingway’s The Green Hills of Africa. And over the years as I found myself in Kansas City, Oak Park, Petoskey, Venice (including Harry’s Bar) and Paris I’ve always thought of Hemingway and his time spent in those places. Oh, and at the University of Miami I was in the film program with Hilary Hemingway (Ernest’s neice) .

Though I’ve never seen a bull-fight in Spain, caught a marlin off the waters of Cuba, or been on a safari in Africa—someday I will. I hope. Hemingway’s adventurous life has influenced me as much as his writings. Moving to Iowa in ’03 has just been another part of the adventure. So even this blog has a loose assoication to the Hemingway spirit. A couple of days ago I went down to the Cedar Falls Library and picked up a copy of Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast that I’d never read.  It’s mostly his account of being young, poor, and unpublished while living in Paris in the 1920s.

“Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say. “
Ernest Hemingway
A Moveable Feast

Looking for a little note of inspiration to stick above your computer? Hard to beat, “All you have to do is write one true sentence.”

P.S. One of the things I delight in when reading Hemingway’s letters is his creative ways of spelling. Hemingway could write, but he couldn’t spell. Nothing a little spell checker wouldn’t fix these days, but we all have our achilles heels don’t we? Hemingway was also no Mark Twain when it came to public speaking. “One of Ernest Hemingway’s deadliest enemies was The Micophone,” said A.E. Hotchner. Just listen to his talk on In Harry’s Bar in Venice or his Nobel Prize Acceptance speech to know what Hotchner meant.

For those that cling to the idea that great writers ideally make the best teachers, I think Hemingway is a pretty good example to the contrary. His writing can take you’re breath away, his speaking—not so much. And I’m sure rather than nurturing an up and coming writer Hemingway would rather have been hunting or drinking. But hanging out with him and his creative gang on the Left Bank in Paris in the 20s would have been quite a learning experience.

Scott W. Smith

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