I love the term magic realism, whoever invented it — I do actually like it because it says certain things. It's about expanding how you see the world.
The success of most Hollywood films these days is down to fact that they're comforting. They tie things up in nice little bows and give you answers, even if the answers are stupid, you go home and you don't have to think about it. … The great filmmakers make you go home and think about it.
The underground press was convinced that I was a junkie, an acid head. … But I don't do drugs. I don't like being fucked up. I've got enough bizarre chemicals floating around in my head. I'm just naturally like this.
Well, I really want to encourage a kind of fantasy, a kind of magic. I love the term magic realism, whoever invented it — I do actually like it because it says certain things. It's about expanding how you see the world. I think we live in an age where we're just hammered, hammered to think this is what the world is. Television's saying, everything's saying "That's the world." And it's not the world. The world is a million possible things.
We read Dover Books, because you can steal from them. The medieval imagery and iconography is so good for the imagination. Trying to describe the world, trying to describe the cosmos, trying to put it down in neat orderly fashion, unlike reality. And it always seems to stick in one's mind more than reality does.
There comes a part where the money and the creative elements all come crashing together. Everybody's under a lot of pressure, and everybody is panicking about what works and what doesn't. And the studios and the money always have one perspective and the creative people have another one, and usually what happens is a lot of compromises get made. I decided not to. I walked off and did Tideland and came back six months later.
The Brothers Grimm came along and I was so desperate for work … Actually I've got to say that I like the movie, I won't apologize for it.
Interview at the NY Museum of the Moving Image in October 2006.
We were devastated. We spent the whole day — Amy Gilliam, Nicola Pecorini, the director of photography, and myself — lying flat on the floor. Heath Ledger's dead, and you don't quite get over that. I suppose I'm in an interesting position because while I'm cutting the film I'm basically working with him every day and he's fine; he's in good shape. Ideas are floating around. Then finally we decided, 'OK, let's get three other people to take over the part'. And we were lucky because we have a magic mirror in this movie. Not every movie has a magic mirror. So you can very genuinely say that these other actors are different aspects of the character that Heath plays. And it works. The point was, we've got to keep going. It was a bit like half being there, but apparently on autopilot I can still do a few things.
[Steven Spielberg's films] are comforting, they always give you answers and I don't think they're very clever answers. … The success of most Hollywood films these days is down to fact that they're comforting. They tie things up in nice little bows and give you answers, even if the answers are stupid, you go home and you don't have to think about it. … The great filmmakers make you go home and think about it.
I’ve always liked gossip, gossip is fun, but whether you believe it or not is something else, and yet the web seems to want to believe. The web doesn’t distinguish between what’s playful and serious. And the speed! What is happening in the web, and all the tweeters tweeting, they become neurons. They are the neurons of the global village. Village is the right word because the village is where the gossip is taking place, it doesn’t take place in the cities. A piece of information comes into that little neuron – whoop – and they’ve immediately got to pass it across the synaptic gap…
Nooo! Leave that to George Lucas, he' s really mastered the CGI acting. That scares me! I hate it! Everybody is so pleased and excited by it. Animation is animation. Animation is great. But it's when you're now taking what should be films full of people, living thinking, breathing, flawed creatures and you're controlling every moment of that, it's just death to me. It's death to cinema, I can't watch those Star Wars films, they're dead things.
I think there's a side of me that's trying to compete with Lucas and Spielberg — I don't usually admit this publicly — because I tend to think that they only go so far, and their view of the world is rather simplistic. What I want to do is take whatever cinema is considered normal or successful at a particular time and play around with it — to use it as a way of luring audiences in.
Nobody went to see Tideland! I was hoping people would get angry about it but those that saw it didn't want to talk about it. This is the world we're living in, people don't want to discuss things that are actually worth discussing.
I am quite bored nowadays. I don't know if it's age and the fact that I have seen so many things and am less surprised, or whether the problem is truly the content. But things have been repeating themselves for 30-40 years already. It seems to me that there is no desire to push the envelope or even to peek there. People are afraid. In the 1960s and 1970s we pushed the limits farther. More attention was paid to what was going on around. Television and the media are everywhere and they are taking over so powerfully. They don't shut up for a second. So you are unable to think. It is very difficult to think independently when you are surrounded by all that noise. What I most aspire to is to be alone. Not lonely, but alone. To stop all this noise. That is what I do when I go to Umbria. There is no television there, no telephone.
The situation is especially serious with television. The money is dispersed among hundreds of stations so that no money is left for good things. In our time there was far greater depth. Not everything is artificial and as cheap as possible. Everyone gossips on television; it's all so trivial and it's impossible to hear anything.
I went to university on a scholarship that was funded by a church. I was on the way to becoming a Presbyterian missionary. In the end I left school. The reason was that I used to tell jokes about God and the people around me did not like the jokes. I asked them, What kind of God is this who can't cope with my lousy jokes? What kind of God feels threatened by these jokes? So I left. And the truth is that this is exactly what I have to say about the present situation. Everything has become too political and it is ludicrous. I understand why they are upset, but it has reached an absurd pass and the Muslims are only hurting themselves.
In the end, people have to learn to live together. That is what I didn't like about America — it is so homogeneous. I like places where there are people who are different culturally, physically, in every way. And I like to see how they succeed in living together.
I like the Coen brothers. Their films are smart and disturbing. I am very impressed by what George Clooney is doing now. He is very political. I like the fact that he did Oceans Eleven and Oceans Twelve, made all that money and then leveraged the money and his success into interesting projects. Johnny Depp has also set up a production company and is showing an interest in risky projects that will not be easy.
I am sorry that it is hard for the average person, and even for an above-average person, to see a film that is not a Hollywood production. You see those films only in the festivals. There are few people there. That is worrying. People don't think. My goal in work is to make them think. The media do the opposite.