Quotes

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps have never been seen.”

Robert Bresson, director and writer

“Art is not recreation, a consolation, a pastime, a business (though it is all these things); it is the stone on which your knife is sharpened.”

David Thomson, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies

“…movies, especially the best American movies, are not about being ‘true to life’, which is the basic bad rap critics have been laying on them for pretty close to a hundred years now.  They are most profoundly about being untrue to our publicly expressed ideas about life—and about being true to our secret life, to that pulpy place where out darkest whimsies, our maddest impulses, both deadly and romantic, live.”

Richard Schickel (from an essay on Samuel Fuller)

“I have got to be free to make the films I want to make, as I want to make them.  I have always taken this stand, and regardless of any good advice I may get to the contrary, I shall continue to take it, and must as long as I am going to do good work in films.”

Orson Welles

“When the last dime is gone, I’ll sit on the curb outside with a pencil and a ten-cent notebook and start the whole thing over again.”

Preston Sturges, director and writer

“I’m a student of violence because I’m a student of the human heart.”

Sam Peckinpah

“For as far back as I can remember, the line between fantasy and reality has been hopelessly blurred.”

Roman Polanski (first sentence of his autobiography, Roman)

“I’ve always liked the extremes, the edges.  I like to know where the cliff is, but you only find out by stepping off.”

Terry Gilliam, in a BBC interview

“The highest tribute one can pay to Bunuel’s direction is to say that one is hardly ever conscious of it.”

John Russell Taylor

“Film, even in its physical attributes, has become a kind of metaphor for consciousness for me. And I think of the incremental frame as a dim but still appealing metaphor for the quantum nature, the chunk nature, of light itself. If you’re watching a film, you believe you’re watching a complete illusion of something real, but you’re actually watching an illusion of only half of what took place. The camera’s shutter was closed the other half of the time. So that there’s another cinema of equal length that could have been made precisely at the same time. And when you play that back, the shutter in the projector is also closed half the time, so that half the time you’re in total darkness. You are! O.K., you don’t have anything particular to do, you’re quite comfortable, presumably, there’s very little exterior stimulus and you’re there for a fiftieth of a second, which is, in terms of energy, an appreciable length of time with nothing to do but think about the frame you’ve just seen.”

Hollis Frampton

“And yet surely the stuff of greatness sometimes, if rarely, asserts itself when, by a trick of nature, the poet speaks wiser than he knows and the player reaches above his own imagination.”

Alec Guinness, A Positively Final Appearance

“Film, he thought, is solitary.”

Don DeLillo, Point Omega

“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.  How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘Green’?  How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye?  How aware of variations in heat waves can the eye be?  Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color.  Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word’.”

Stan Brakhage

“A sigh, a silence, a word, a sentence, a din, a hand, the whole of your model, his face, in repose, in movement, in profile, full face, an immense view, a restricted space, each thing exactly in its place:  your only resources.”

Robert Bresson

“Beware of those who claim to lead you to better self-knowledge by taking your money.”

Graham Chapman, A Liar’s Autobiography

“To conform to a system is neither a duty nor a discipline.”

Orson Welles

“It’s strange how cinema, bit by bit, can piece together a character.  Cinema is not only beautiful compositions or well-knit stories; cinema is not only visual patterns or play of light.  Cinema also creates human characters.”

Jonas Mekas (from his essay “Marilyn Monroe and the Loveless World”)

“…what America likes best is something that can be reproduced the maximum number of times as cheaply as possible with the least amount of interference from its creator.  It is a commercial culture above all else, and nothing threatens it more than an individual who is irreplaceable.”

-Douglas McGrath, “The Seven Wonders of Preston Sturges”  (Vanity Fair; May, 2010)

“These people had a kind of courage that may be the finest gift of man:  the courage of thosewho simply keep on, and on, doing the next thing, far beyond all reasonable endurance, seldom thinking of themselves as martyred, and never thinking of themselves as brave.”

Allan LeMay (from the preamble to his classic western novel, The Searchers)

“From the highest, most opulent penthouse, the slums are visible in the distance; and from the slums, the lights of that penthouse twinkle brightly as the stars and remain equally out of reach.”

Nicholas Christopher, Somewhere in the Night (a book-length study on film noir)

“Suppose that through the medium of the movies pulp, with its five and dime myths, can take a stronger hold on people’s imaginations than art, because it doesn’t affect the conscious imagination, the way a great novel does, but the private, hidden imagination, the primitive fantasy life—and with an immediacy that leaves no room for thought.”

Pauline Kael, Reeling

“This isn’t a particularly novel observation, but the world is full of people who think they can manipulate the lives of others by getting a law passed.”

Groucho Marx

“…like everyone else I am what I am:  an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”

Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography

“What’s valid on the…screen is never a mere professional effort and certainly not an industrial product.  Whatever is valuable must, in the final analysis, be a work of art…(and) originality is one of the essential definitions of any work of art.  Just as obviously, the industrial system, by its nature, cannot accommodate originality.  A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory.”

Orson Welles

“I started to walk down the street when I heard a voice saying:  ‘Good evening, Mr. Dowd’.  I turned and there was this big white rabbit leaning against a lamp post.  Well, I thought nothing of that.  Because when you’ve lived in a town as long as I’ve lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name.”

James Stewart (from the movie “Harvey”; screenplay by Mary Chase)

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