Tuesday, January 8, 2013

31 Performances Ripe for Rediscovery (3) Nastassja Kinski in PARIS, TEXAS (WITH A GUEST CONTRIBUTION FROM STACEY MARK)

"I used to make long speeches to you after you left. I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone. I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don't know what to say. It was easier when I just imagined you. I even imagined you talking back to me. We'd have long conversations, the two of us. It was almost like you were there. I could hear you, I could see you, smell you. I could hear your voice. Sometimes your voice would wake me up. It would wake me up in the middle of the night, just like you were in the room with me. Then... it slowly faded. I couldn't picture you anymore. I tried to talk out loud to you like I used to, but there was nothing there. I couldn't hear you. Then... I just gave it up. Everything stopped. You just... disappeared. And now I'm working here. I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice..."

I have written so much on the career and life of Nastassja Kinski in the past six years that I am not sure what more I can say with this little tribute.  Simply put, Kinski's work in Wim Wenders' Paris, Texas is my favorite performance of all-time. 

The only reason's Kinski's work as Jane isn't number one on this list is due to the fact that, unlike most on this roles on this countdown, her work has garnered a considerable cult-following.  Kinski's work in this film has influenced a countless number of artists since...in film, music, fashion and photography.


When thinking on Kinski in Paris, Texas the moment that always comes to my mind first is the astonishing close-up that Wenders' captures of her during Harry Dean Stanton's moving monologue towards the film's shattering conclusion.  This close-up, which lasts for several minutes without a cut is my favorite cinematic moment ever...it represents cinema at its purest and Kinski shows herself as an artist of staggering composure, grace and skill.  It's the kind of monumental moment most 'great' actors strive for throughout their entire career but few ever reach.

Kinski's presence looms so large over all of Paris, Texas that it is hard to believe how relatively small her part in the film actually is.  Wenders understood that Jane had to be played by someone so electrifying that just a photograph of her would make us understand Stanton's obsessive and epic journey.  

It is fitting that Nastassja Kinski had her greatest screen moment for Wim Wenders.  It was after all Wenders who had discovered her in the mid-seventies and given Kinski her first role, in the brilliant Wrong Move.  The two would reunite again in the nineties for the undervalued Faraway So Close.  Listening to Wender's commentary on the Paris, Texas DVD one can hear how important the collaborations were to both artists.

While the celebrated close-up of Kinski is her most iconic scene in Paris, Texas there are many other smaller moments which are just as resonate and special including this one:

and especially this one:

Nastassja Kinski's work in Paris, Texas has influenced and haunted many notable artists including Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith (both called Paris, Texas their favorite film before their tragic passings).  The film and Kinski also inspired one of my favorite photographers, the fabulous Stacey Mark, who, along with model Hailey Gates, paid special tribute to the film in the July/August 2011 edition of Jalouse magazine.

Stacey Mark has been one of my favorite photographers for several years now and we struck up an online friendship, which I greatly value, a couple of years back.  Stacey's work is absolutely mesmerizing and has graced the pages of Nylon (she worked as their photo director for a time), Purple, Jacques, Lula and many many other publications.  She has photographed everyone from Emily Blunt to Kate Bosworth and her stunning shots of Asia Argento have already become the stuff of legend.  Outside of being one of America's most gifted young artists, Stacey is a really special person and I am so honored that she agreed to stop by here and share her memories of her Paris, Texas inspired Jalouse photo shoot.  After reading, please pay a visit to Stacey's official site, follow her at Tumblr and like her page on Facebook.  
All right, enough of my rambling...let's here from the awesome Stacey Mark, one of the most inspiring people I know (and a fellow Roxy Music devotee to boot!).

-Jeremy Richey, 2013-

When Jalouse Magazine proposed I shoot a "Paris, Texas" inspired fashion story, I immediately said "no." The image of Nastassja Kinski in that fuzzy pink sweater behind the reflective glass of her peep show room is often imitated but never duplicated. Many photographers have tried and most have failed. Not only was I turned off to the idea of being the one of many artists to attempt this intimidating feat, the fact that the magazine wanted me to create 12 pages based on one iconic image seemed impossible.

The overall theme of the issue was to cast theater student and international girl of mystery Hailey Gates as the lead in all of her favorite films. When I researched Hailey, I learned that not only is her father the television director Tucker Gates, her grandmother is Joan Tewkesbury. Tewkesbury wrote two of Robert Altmans most respected films, Nashville and Thieves Like Us. With heritage like that, who am I to stand in the way of her cinematic dreams? Hailey as Kinski in a 12 page Kinski in 'Paris, Texas' it is.

I enlisted some of the best artists I know to recreate Kinski's butter blond bob to hide Hailey's waist length brown hair, her subtle yet seductive makeup and a wardrobe stylist to hunt down that fuzzy sweater. I decided to have the entire shoot take place in the imaginary room behind the glass. Budget concerns forced me to turn my Brooklyn apartment into a makeshift Texan peep show. 

Fast forward to the recreation of that scene. That scene was haunting me the entire shoot and I had decided to do it at the very end of the day as the very last shot. The wardrobe stylist found a replica of that sweater, the hair stylist had recreated that hair and it was up to me to recreate that scene. We created a background of curtains based on the colors of her the scene, and set the lights around Hailey to both light her from the front with a warm spotlight as well as a light behind her to create a backlit glow. Having the bright lights almost blind her had the same effect as the one way mirror: I could see her but she could barely see me. The apartment was dark except for the light as an iphone quitely repeated the familiar creepy sound of the film's score. It was the first time all day that everyone was silent...hushed. There are few moments where you "experience" a photo, and this was one of those moments. Hailey looked at the lens with longing, the heat and brightness of the lights forced tears down her cheeks. This was, for me and the rest of the crew, our iconic moment.

-Stacey Mark, 2013-

Thanks again to Stacey for submitting this fascinating piece!  After visiting her sites please also check out the official page of the much anticipated film The Turning, which Stacey appears in (and graces the poster of, as seen here):


dfordoom said...

It is a great performance by a fine and undervalued actress.

Sheila O'Malley said...

Haunting movie and performance - great piece, thank you for this entire series, Jeremy.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so mcuh to you both! I hope you enjoy my final two picks...although I think I am going to make this an ongoing series (maybe with an additional selection or two each month) as the reaction has been so great (and I have so many more actors I want to pay tribute to).