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I suppose it was only to be expected that filmmaker Wim Wenders would have an eye for composing a good photo. This book of sixty-two, originally published in 1987, is thankfully still in print. They were taken in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas while Wenders was looking for locations for his movie 'Paris, Texas'. Predictably they show a European notion of America so most of them capture what could be considered a rather negative image, abandoned gas stations in the desert, deserted movie theatres and shops, neon signs, everyday commercial activity and more. But they are taken with a sympathetic eye and great feeling.

There are six really great images of street corners, this kind of shot always works, shop-fronts and parked cars stretch into the distance while the immediate foreground provides close-up detail. As with all Wenders photos the colour is very controlled and he takes advantage of the very strong dark shadows created by the sunlight in this part of the country. There are four interior photos which I don't think are too successful, very dark and rather lacking in composition.

I don't think this will be a photobook to everybody's taste, because of the subject matter but if you like the grittiness of the American street scene it is well worth owning. A book that captures the same area in great colour photos is 'Southwest USA' (ISBN 0500541213) by another German, Gerd Kittel. More broader in scope than 'Written in the West', it includes many interior and landscape photos as well as the small town street scenes.
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