Archive for the ‘ 1974 / The Passenger ’ Category

I Am Tired Of Today’s Cinema (March 1975)

Nowadays is not only us critics who enthusiastically support your work, as it was at the times of L’avventura and La notte. A large part of the public has also shown its enthusiasm  for your work since Blow-Up was released. How do you explain this change? 

Today, the public has matured and accepts certain themes and/or language without difficulty. As for myself, I would say that, instinctively, I might have found a way to make my films more – how can I say­ Americans would say exciting, more interesting, but that is not the right word. More precisely, I might have found a way to be less reserved in showing emotions and feelings. Perhaps I have been able to deal with a topic more deeply and even more skillfully. I do not really know. A film – I will never grow tired of repeating it – does not need to be “understood.” It is enough if the viewer “feels” it. To see a film must be an overall personal, intuitive experience, like when one reads a poem. Who would dream of being able to thoroughly explain a poem? Take The Passenger, for instance (I am sorry to keep returning to this film, but this is the film that everyone wants to talk about), or its last sequence, that long uninterrupted take. There is no need for the audience to understand it from a technical point of view; it is enough if they are sensitive to that slow flowing of things through the window, while the camera slowly moves onward.

In The Passenger, however, technique is very important, even if this is not unusual in your films. 

It seems to me that there is something unusual here. In general, I have never made camera movements that were not justified by the movements of the characters. Here, instead, the camera moves on its own, as if it had the same interest for objects, landscape, and people that the protagonist, the reporter, has. Why this? It seems to me almost arrogant to answer. I work very instinctively, and the meanings of certain techniques become clear to me only later on. For example, in reviewing The Passenger I ask myself: Why did I film that scene in this way? It will seem strange, but I always find an answer that I have never previously thought of. The presence of a car in a pan, apparently coming from nowhere, might have been suggested to me by the fact that a character without a past of his own, but with the past of someone who is now dead, was riding in that same car. Continue reading


The “Passenger” That You Didn’t See (October 1975)

I have always thought that scripts are dead pages. I have also written it. They are pages that presuppose a film, and without the film they have no reason to exist. They don’t even have literary value. The following sequence was not included in The Passenger for reasons of length. Therefore, there should be no reason to publish it. But I filmed it, and therefore it is a sequence that exists somewhere, inside a box at the bottom of some warehouse, and it exists in my memory and in the memory of whoever saw it screened – for example, of whoever edited it with me.

I confess that I liked this sequence, not just because it was splendidly acted by Jack Nicholson and the German actor, but also because, in supporting the theme of the film, it also gave quite an unreal dimension to the reporter’s character. Carried out on the ambiguous thread of memory – you know that memory offers no guarantees – this sequence opened for Locke, the journalist, with daydream moments he enjoyed exploring.

The name of an unknown woman, Helga, brings unexpectedly to his mind the memory of a red bicycle. Helga and the bicycle never encountered one another, but the fascination of the game issues exactly from that. For a man like Locke, who has already given up his own identity to assume another’s, it cannot but be exciting to run after a third one. He doesn’t even need to wonder how it will end.

I filmed the scene with sinuous and barely perceptible camera movements. To think of it now, it seems clear to me that I was unconsciously trying to carry out a movement similar to that of our imagination, when it attempts to give life to images that don’t belong to us, but that, little by little, we make our own. We color them, we give them sounds – glimmers of color and sound – but lively, just like our memories. Or like dreams, which are inadequate and laconic as far as content is concerned, but very rich in sensations and thoughts.  Continue reading

Profession Against (August 1983)

I considered refusing the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, but I could not come up with a good enough reason. I would have refused it on instinct alone. I have received many awards, at almost all the film festivals – Cannes, Venice, and Berlin. The only place I have not yet won is Moscow, but that’s such a particular festival that I could do without. So, when I think of another Golden Lion added to the one I already have, it is already too much. I do not know how to say it – I mean, it puts me into a situation – that is, it gives me another responsibility in dealing with the past, and this is what bothers me. I do not want this responsibility. My films are what they are, I do not know if they deserve another Golden Lion or not, and I do not want to have to talk about it. This is how I feel about that prize.

Then what made you accept it? 

I did it because it is very difficult to say no to Venice. It seems a bit presumptuous for me to say: “No, I do not need another award, I am already who I am.” After all, I guess it is OK to have another one.

Maybe you don’t like these festivals because they show films that no longer satisfy you as they did when you filmed them, films that you have regrets about. Have you ever thought about that? 

Well, in my professional life I have regrets in the sense that when I see one of my films again I do not always like it. That is, I might not like the whole film, but rather just parts of it – certain sequences, or maybe its subject matter. I would not say that I am satisfied with the entire film. There has not been a film of mine that has completely satisfied me.

Not even one? What about The Girlfriends, The Cry, La notte, Red Desert, Identification of a Woman, The Passenger?  Continue reading

The World Is Outside The Window (March 1975)

First of all, we would like to talk about your work on the set, about what it means to live a film-that is, to live a certain period of time, to go over that kind of work that the film itself, in its final state, tends to cancel out. 

For me, making a film is always a way of experiencing life. Generally, one thinks that when a director makes a fIlm, it is just a “parenthesis” in his or her life, while waiting for the next film and the next parenthesis. In my case, at least, this is not the way things are: I go through a continuous maturation process that involves observations, experiences, reflections, which are occasionally of political and moral character. This process goes on when I am not working, but also when I am shooting. I have previously said that my way of being autobiographical does not involve representing my own personal stories, but rather having my daily state of mind reemerge within the film. In this way, for example, when I go to work in the morning, the people I meet, the things I think about, and even the light of that day can all impress themselves upon me and can influence the way I resolve, sometimes even technically, a certain sequence. It seems to me that even this is a way of being autobiographical.

But in cinema things take time. Between the initial plan and its completion, between the idea of an image and its final actualization, months can pass, even years, often not very productive. 

Yes, but for me the process is different. I never try to produce images that I have thought of I have found that if I did this I would end up with a rough imitation of my thoughts and images. Instead, when I arrive on the set, I like to feel in a state of total “virginity” toward the scene that I have to film. Sometimes, obviously this is not always possible, I prefer not to even know what I have to film. I do not want to have the time to think too much about the scene. The first idea for me is the best.

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