An Interview With Michelangelo Antonioni (November 1965)

In general, where does the original idea for your films come from? 

It seems to me that no one engaged in creative activity can answer that question in good faith. Lucidity is not one of my outstanding qualities. I look at everything, avidly, and I also think I listen a great deal. One thing is certain: ideas come to me unexpectedly. But I’m not really interested in getting to the bottom of such a question.

What does the writing of the scenario mean for you: clarifying the dramatic line, making the visual aspect of the film more specific, familiarizing yourself with the characters? 

To me, the visual aspect of a film is very closely related to its thematic aspect in the sense that an idea almost always comes to me through images. The problem lies elsewhere. It has to do with restricting the accumulation of these images, with digging into them, with recognizing the ones that coincide with what interests me at the time. It’s work done instinctively, almost automatically, but it involves a great deal of tension. One’s whole being is at stake: it is a precise moral choice. What people ordinarily call the “dramatic line” doesn’t interest me. One device is no better than another, apriori. And I don’t believe that the old laws of drama have validity any more. Today stories are what they are, with neither a beginning nor an end necessarily, without key scenes, without a dramatic are, without catharsis. They can be made up of tatters, of fragments, as unbalanced as the lives we lead. Familiarize myself with characters? But the characters are not strangers that I mayor may not be on intimate terms with; they emerge out of me, they are my intimate inner life.

What does the fact that you work in collaboration with others on your scenario mean to you? 

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A Conversation With Michelangelo Antonioni (October 1960)

You are the author of all the stories of your films. Is that because you haven’t found any other way of illustrating what you have in mind; or is it that, for you, to create a film story and to direct it become one and the same thing? 

For the principle of the cinema, as for that of all the arts, there is one choice. As Camus says, it is the revolt of the artist against actuality. If you stick to that principle, how important are the means by which reality is disclosed? Whether the author of a cinema finds it in a novel, in a news item or in his own fantasy, what counts is his way of isolating it, of stylizing it, of making it his own. If he achieves that, the source has no importance. The plot of Crime and Punishment without the form which Dostoevsky gave it is a mediocre plot. It could become either a very beautiful or very ugly film. That is why I have almost always written my own films. Once I was struck by one of Pavese’s novels. As I worked on it, I knew that I loved it for reasons entirely different from those which had originally made me think of it as a film. And the pages which had interested me the most were those which lent themselves least to a cinematic translation. On the other hand, it is very difficult to find one self an original story line, since the original material is already selected in terms of a very definite narrative style. Finally, I find it much simpler to invent the story completely. A director is a man, therefore he has ideas; he is also an artist, therefore he has imagination. Whether they are good or bad, there are so many stories to tell, it seems to me. And that which I see, that which happens to me is constantly changing these stories.

The subjects of your films resemble one another curiously; they always revolve about the same problem: the couple, the woman, solitude. Why? 

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