Paris, Texas + The Shining


Double feature: “Paris, Texas” and “The Shining” – two films saturated in primary colors and shimmering with the sometimes unsettling potential of the father-son relationship.

Both provide evidence for the ultimate unknowability of other minds. Both linger on boys’ wary observations of their fathers, and both gesture towards parents’ fears about the harm they might bring to their children.

“Paris, Texas” traces the trajectory of a man becoming increasingly “real” as he gradually reassumes the roles of the society he has reentered. “The Shining” is the story of a man cracking under the burden of, and violently fighting to shed, those roles. Both films draw heavily on viewers’ imaginations to build near-unbearable suspense, but the suspense of “Paris, Texas” surrounds what might have happened in the past, while that of “The Shining” concerns what could/will happen in the next minute.

Actually, both of these films can be a bit much to take. But “Paris, Texas” is worth a watch, if only for its scene in which the still alienated protagonists watch their younger selves interacting in home movies. As they alternate rapt glances at the screen with shy glances at each other, we witness a connection rekindling, and two identities in the process of being reaffirmed.

For a marathon: “Paris, Texas” and “My Own Private Idaho” are so tonally and scenically similar that characters from each film could wander into the frame of the other without much disturbance, and with possibly enriching results.

Didn’t think “The Shining” had quite enough alpine madness and frenzied isolation? Follow it up with the decidedly more heavenly “Black Narcissus.”

(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “SweetOnVeg” and “amp’ed” at Flickr)

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