Archive for the ‘ Writings ’ Category

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


The White Forest (1964)

It is very cold. I know it. I see it in the others. The ice would enter my bones if I let it pass through – that is, if I’d get distracted. But I have too much to do. Not that I have specific things to do. As a matter of fact, I am doing absolutely nothing – that is, whoever looks at me certainly thinks this. But it is not true. I am observing the forest, which, little by little, is becoming white. I also have other minor practical tasks, such as to ascertain that every job is done properly, to indicate the points of the underbrush and the still – green tops of the pines to the painters – they know that I do not want dark spots, but one always escapes notice. Painting a bush is simple; but the top of a forty-meter-tall pinion pine which looks, from the ground, like a small patch of green, becomes, for the painter who sees it from the ladder pushed far up in the tree, a tangle of branches that you cannot finish whitewashing. The man leans out as much as he can on the ladder, which twists frighteningly, and I hold my breath because that man is in danger for me, and even though it may appear so, I am not insensitive to these things.

But beyond these simple tasks there is another one that occupies me completely, and it is watching the forest change color. In the dark, or better, in the artificial light, I am trying to understand what these white – or rather dirty, gray-trees will be like tomorrow, against the gray sky (a layer of clouds has covered it for a week), near the cement of the factory, near its towers. Since for now, as it stands, this question can­ not have anything but an intuitive answer, I keep asking myself, more and more insistently. To be honest, I began to formulate it just a little while ago. The question was not there when I said that I wanted a white forest, the sentence came out of me spontaneously, suggested by an image that flashed in my mind. I had not even the shadow of a doubt. Not even when, as soon as I said that the forest had to be white, I noticed that they looked at me as though they had just heard this color named for the first time (if white is a color). And immediately they wanted to know why. As if changing the color would have been enough to make them agree with me. As if with red, or blue, or yellow – which are, perhaps for the time being, the three fundamental colors of the chromatic scale – that question would not have had any reason to exist. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Zabriskie Point (August 1970)

Writing is not my business. I know that I’m not a good judge of myself or of my films. Each time I must put something down on paper about myself, the same embarrassment returns. The questions put to me are always the same: why did you make that film? What were you trying to say? I’m tempted to reply: I wanted to make a film and that’s that. But if you want to know why and how I did what I did, what prompted me to do it, what I was thinking while doing it, what I wanted to say, in other words, if you want me to summarize my reasons and explain what is almost impossible to explain (impulses, intuitions, figurative choices), you will only come to this: you will come to spoil the film itself.

I think that what a director says about himself and his work does not help to understand the latter. In my case, what little knowledge I have of myself, words can, at best, clarify a particular moment, or a state of mind, a vague awareness. The answer I prefer to the above question is that, at a certain period when a film was being prepared and shot, I saw certain people, read certain books, loved X, hated Y, had no money, did not sleep well. … But even in saying that much, perhaps I am supplying involuntary explanations.

Let’s talk instead about Zabriskie Point. Talk about it now, long before these words will see print. There are marches on Washington. American universities are in revolt, four youths have been killed on an Ohio campus and two more in Jackson. It is difficult, unfortunately, to reject the temptation of feeling like a prophet. I would prefer, however, to reflect on some of the psychological aspects of violence. I’m convinced that a policeman does not have death on his mind when he enters a university or faces a mob. He has too many things to do, too many orders to follow. The policeman is not thinking of death anymore than a hunter is thinking of the death of a bird. Astronauts, in the same way, are not afraid, not because they do not know the dangers, but because they do not have the time. If the policeman gave some thought to death he probably would not shoot.

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