L.M. Kit Carson, perhaps best known for writing the screenplay of Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, died Monday night in Dallas after enduring a long-term illness. Carson was well-liked and respected in the film community, known for his generosity in helping young filmmakers start their projects, such as Wes Anderson and Luke and Owen Wilson.
Carson’s fascination with letting the camera roll and observe without manipulating its subjects is clearly executed in the dramatized documentary he made with co-director Lawrence Schiller on Dennis Hopper, The American Dreamer. The Walker screened a new digital restoration of the film this past Saturday during the kickoff of the Walker’s 75th anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, Carson’s illness prevented him from joining Schiller at the Walker.
When we ask how film creates culture, Carson is the perfect answer. Traveling to Hopper’s New Mexico ranch and allowing the camera to record Hopper’s playful roles of different everyday personae, he and Schiller succeeded in displaying an entire movement—the counterculture of the 1970s. This raw and non-stylized type of filmmaking was rare for this time and exemplary of Carson and Schiller’s unique approach. Matt Zoller Seitz writes that “Kit was never the kind of artist that one could sell.” This devotion to art (not the business) of film was a spearhead in the formation of both the Texas film scene and American independent filmmaking.
Carson left the world having contributed to an array of films—whether as actor, writer, or producer—and will remain a strong and loving inspiration. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Hargrave, and son, actor Hunter Carson, who first appeared in Paris, Texas and gives a farewell shared by many: “Thanks for everything. See you in the movies.”