Category Archives: 20 Quotes
1. “The film [Stalker] needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theater have time to leave before the main action starts.”
2. “I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.”
3. “The completion of Ivan’s Childhood marked the end of one cycle of my life, and of a process that I saw as a kind of self-determination. It was made up of study at the Institute of Cinematography, work on a short film for my diploma, and then eight months’ work on my first feature film. I could now assess the experience of Ivan’s Childhood, accept the need to work out clearly, albeit temporarily, my own position in the aesthetics of cinema, and set myself problems which might be solved in the course of making my next film: in all of this I saw a pledge of my advance onto new ground. The work could all have been done in my head.”
4. “It is obvious that art cannot teach anyone anything, since in four thousand years humanity has learnt nothing at all. We should long ago have become angels had we been capable of paying attention to the experience of art, and allowing ourselves to be changed in accordance with the ideals it expresses. Art only has the capacity, through shock and catharsis, to make the human soul receptive to good. It’s ridiculous to imagine that people can be taught to be good…Art can only give food – a jolt – the occasion – for psychical experience.”
5. “…art must must carry man’s craving for the ideal, must be an expression of his reaching out towards it; that art must give man hope and faith. And the more hopeless the world in the artist’s version, the more clearly perhaps must we see the ideal that stands in opposition – otherwise life becomes impossible! Art symbolises the meaning of our existence.”
6. “Of course people don’t learn from experience; today’s directors constantly use styles of performance that belong patently to the past. Even Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent is marred for me by her determination to be expressive and significant: the result is that her ‘parable’ has meaning only on one level. As so often happens, her effort to ‘stir’ the audience makes for an exaggerated emphasis on her characters’ emotions. It is as if she were afraid of not being understood, and had made her characters walk on invisible buskins. Even the lighting is calculated to instill the performances with meaning. Unfortunately the effect is stilted and false. In order to oblige the audience to sympathize with the characters, the actors have been made to demonstrate their suffering. Everything is more painful, more tortured, than in real life – even the torment and the pain; and above all, more portentous.”
7. “Never try to convey your idea to the audience – it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.”
8. “What can it mean to them when they have not shared with the author the misery and joy of bringing an image into being?”
9. The poet has nothing to be proud of. He is not master of the situation, but a servant. Creative work is his only possible form of existence, and his every work is like a deed he has no power to annul. For him to be aware that the sequence of such deeds is due and ripe, that it lies in the very nature of things, he has to have faith in the idea; for only faith interlocks the system of images for which read system of life.”
10. “In world cinema there have been many attempts to create a new concept in film, always with the general aim of bringing it closer to life, to factual truth. Hence pictures like Cassavetes’ Shadows, Shirley Clarke’s The Connection, Jean Rouch’s Chronicle of a Summer. These notable films are marked, apart from anything else, by a lack of commitment; complete and unconditional factual truth is not consistently pursued.”
11. “We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyse the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it’s a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it.”
12. “Substitution . . . the infinite cannot be made into matter, but it is possible to create an illusion of the infinite: the image.”
13. “What can one say, for instance, about the way Antonioni works with his actors in L’Avventura? Or Orson Welles in Citizen Kane? All we are aware of is the unique conviction of the character. But this is a qualitatively different, screen conviction, the principles of which are not those that make acting expressive in a theatrical sense.”
14. “What is art? (…) Like a declaration of love: the consciousness of our dependence on each other. A confession. An unconscious act that none the less reflects the true meaning of life—love and sacrifice.”
15. “The director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen, even if not everyone finds that truth acceptable. Of course an artist can lose his way, but even his mistakes are interesting provided they are sincere. For they represent the reality of his inner life, of the peregrinations and struggle into which the external world has thrown him.”
16. “There is one film that could not be further removed from the principle of direct observation, and that is Eisenstein’s Ivan’s The Terrible. Not only is the whole film a kind of hieroglyphic, it consists of a series of hieroglyphics—major, minor and minute. There is not a single detail that is not permeated with the author’s intent.”
17. “A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that he’s worth something. And if I know for sure that I’m a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?”
18. “In theater actual blood cannot be convincing as a demonstration of poetic truth if it merely has meaning on one level, as a natural function. Blood in cinema, on the other hand, is blood, not a sign, not a symbol of anything else. Therefore when the hero of Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds is killed surrounded by sheets hanging out to dry, and he presses one of these to his chest as he falls, and his scarlet blood spreads across the white linen to make a red and white symbol of the Polish flag, the resulting image is more literary than cinematic, even though it is extraordinarily powerful emotionally.”
19. “Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.”
20. “Let everything that’s been planned come true.”
I’m not the messiah, but you can follow me:
1. “If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”
2. “- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
– Never use a long word where a short one will do.
– If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
– Never use the passive where you can use the active.
– Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
– Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”
3. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
4. “For after all, what is there behind, except money? Money for the right kind of education, money for influential friends, money for leisure and peace of mind, money for trips to Italy. Money writes books, money sells them. Give me not righteousness, O lord, give me money, only money.”
5. “In an age like our own, when the artist is an altogether exceptional person, he must be allowed a certain amount of irresponsibility, just as a pregnant woman is. Still, no one would say that a pregnant woman should be allowed to commit murder, nor would anyone make such a claim for the artist, however gifted. If Shakespeare returned to the earth to-morrow, and if it were found that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another King Lear. And, after all, the worst crimes are not always the punishable ones. By encouraging necrophilic reveries one probably does quite as much harm as by, say, picking pockets at the races. One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other. The first thing that we demand of a wall is that it shall stand up. If it stands up, it is a good wall, and the question of what purpose it serves is separable from that. And yet even the best wall in the world deserves to be pulled down if it surrounds a concentration camp. In the same way it should be possible to say, “This is a good book or a good picture, and Read the rest of this entry
1. “I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
2. “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.”
3. “One should never use exclamation points in writing. It is like laughing at your own joke.”
4. “The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell together, as quickly as possible.”
5. “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.” Read the rest of this entry
1. “Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our life time, we need to keep them alive.”
2. “Film is history. With every foot of film that is lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves.”
3. “Black and white is never really black and white. It’s shades of grey.”
4. on Akira Kurosawa: “The term ‘giant’ is used too often to describe artists. But in the case of Akira Kurosawa, we have one of the rare instances where the term fits.”
5. “L’avventura” gave me one of the most profound shocks I’ve ever had at the movies, greater even than “Breathless” or “Hiroshima, mon amour”. Or “La Dolce Vita”. At the time there were two camps, the people who liked the Fellini film and the ones who liked L’Avventura. I knew I was firmly on Antonioni’s side of the line, but if you’d asked me at the time, I’m not sure I would have been able to explain why. I loved Fellini’s pictures and I admired La Dolce Vita, but I was challenged by L’ Avventura. Fellini’s film moved me and entertained me, but Antonioni’s film changed my perception of cinema, and the world around me, and made both seem limitless. I was mesmerized by L’Avventura and by Antonioni’s subsequent films, and it was the fact that they were unresolved in any conventional sense that kept drawing me back. They posed mysteries – or rather the mystery, of who we are, what we are, to each other, to ourselves, to time. You could say that Antonioni was looking directly at the mysteries of the soul. That’s why I kept going back. I wanted to keep experiencing these pictures, wandering through them. I still do.” Read the rest of this entry
1. “I never learned anything at all in school and didn’t read a book for pleasure until I was 19 years old.”
2. “How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: ‘The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.’ This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don’t want this to happen to 2001.
3. “Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.”
4. “I don’t think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form; they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors. I don’t think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was.”
5. “Heroic violence in the Hollywood sense is a great deal like the motivational researchers’ problem in selling candy. The problem with candy is not to convince people that it’s good…but to free them from the guilt of eating it. We have seen so many times that the body of a film serves merely as an excuse for motivating a final blood-crazed slaughter by the heroes of his enemies, and at the same time to relieve the audience’s guilt of enjoying this mayhem.” Read the rest of this entry
All of these quotes were chosen from Sidney Lumet’s Making Movies. Additionally, the comments in front of some of the quotes were added due to the collaboration of Christopher Murrie, A.C.E.
1. Blue or red may mean totally different things to you and me. But as long as my interpretation of a colour is consistent, eventually you’ll become aware (subconsciously, I hope) of how I’m using that colour, and what I’m using it for.
2. Don’t let the difficulty of actually achieving a shot make you think that the shot is good. (This times a million. The audience doesn’t care how hard/cool it was to get that shot. If it isn’t right, it isn’t right. As an editor, this one gets me pretty frustrated. Don’t be precious.)
3. There are no small decisions in movie-making. Nowhere does this apply more than in editing.
4. Almost every picture is improved by a good musical score. To start with, music is a quick way to reach people emotionally. (True. But be careful when using temps. Make your scenes play without music first. Then, score enhances what is already great. It is too easy to lean on music to make a scene play when it otherwise wouldn’t. Hell, I like to cut with no sound at all sometimes just to make every idea play as best I can purely on the basis of the visuals.)
5. Everything becomes creative if the person doing the job is. Read the rest of this entry
1. “Literature is invention. Fiction is fiction. To call a story a true story is an insult to both truth and art.”
2. “It is a singular reaction, this sitting still and writing, writing, writing, or ruminating at length, which is much the same, really.
3. “There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three — storyteller, teacher, enchanter — but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer…The three facets of the great writer — magic, story, lesson — are prone to blend in one impression of unified and unique radiance, since the magic of art may be present in the very bones of the story, in the very marrow of thought…Then with a pleasure which is both sensual and intellectual we shall watch the artist build his castle of cards and watch the castle of cards become a castle of beautiful steel and glass.”
4. “The thought, when written down, becomes less oppressive, but some thoughts are like a cancerous tumor: you express is, you excise it, and it grows back worse than before.”
5. “No writer in a free country should be expected to bother about the exact demarcation between the sensuous and the sensual; this is preposterous; I can only admire but cannot emulate the accuracy of judgment of those who pose the fair young mammals photographed in magazines where the general neckline is just low enough to provoke a past master’s chuckle and just high enough not to make a postmaster frown.” Read the rest of this entry
1. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
2. “It’s the writing that teaches you.”
3. “Writing is a lonely job. Even if a writer socializes regularly, when he gets down to the real business of his life, it is he and his type writer or word processor. No one else is or can be involved in the matter.”
4. ” For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”
5. “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
6. “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” Read the rest of this entry