|Hunter (Hunter Carson) and Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) on opposite sides of the street in Paris, Texas (1984).|
I celebrated Father’s Day this weekend by re-watching Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984), a movie that arguably sports one of the loveliest and gentlest father-son relationships in cinema. Harry Dean Stanton’s Travis, who has been absent for half the length of his seven-year-old son Hunter’s life, spends the second act of the movie slowly regaining Hunter’s trust, like someone trying to coax a spooked cat out from under a bed (abandoned by both his mother and father, Hunter has been raised by his uncle and aunt, played by Dean Stockwell and Aurore Clement, whom he has come to regard as his parents). In one of the many scenes in the film that brings tears to my eyes, Travis sets out to win Hunter’s admiration by dressing up like a dude and walking him home from school, and Hunter, impressed but shy, walks home on the opposite side of the street until finally Travis crosses over to Hunter’s side and the two continue to walk home together, framed in a shot that is all the more powerful for being wordless and static. The seeds of their reconciliation have been sown in a previous scene in which they watch home movies shot before Travis’ absence—the nuclear family unit still intact. By the time the home movie ends, Hunter has slowly crept from his position in the corner of the living room to the edge of the couch where Travis sits, father and son brought together by their shared gaze at the screen.
|Family viewing: father and son share a gaze.|
|Jane (Nastassja Kinski) and Travis reunited.|