As with all the arts, it is the relationship between audience and work that sustains the life of the created object, and this truth underlines the importance of the filmmaker and his or her respect for the viewer. The filmmaker should allow the audience to participate in the storytelling, to allow the viewer’s imagination and emotions take part in the film.
Filmmakers from different parts of the world and different time periods share their insight on how to communicate with the spectator in order to create timeless films. As Stanley Kubrick suggests, when the filmmaker places the viewer in a position of discovery, the thrill of the film goes through the heart.
Read, Learn, and Absorb!
I don’t think I can tell people anything that they don’t know already really, but all I can do is just hold up a mirror. For me, the cinema screen…I always want it to be a mirror where people can see their own reflection. And that’s it. That’s all you can do as an artist. That’s all you can do as a filmmaker.
If you really want to communicate something, even if it’s just an emotion or an attitude, let alone an idea, the least effective and least enjoyable way is directly. It only goes in about an inch. But if you can get people to the point where they have to think a moment what it is you’re getting at, and then discover it, the thrill of discovery goes right through the heart.
Films that are entertainments give simple answers but I think that’s ultimately more cynical, as it denies the viewer room to think. If there are more answers at the end, then surely it is a richer experience.
Any film that exists that is thorough, you can’t give it to an audience of one and have that be effective communication. Communication involves an audience of many that have a conversation, put it through the ringer, filter it and then a sense of it coalesces. So if I am an author, my success is that end result.
Never try to convey your idea to the audience—it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.
While the goal of all movies is to entertain, the kind of film in which I believe goes one step further. It compels the spectator to examine one facet or another of his own conscience. It stimulates thought and sets the mental juices flowing.
I think if movies are still successful, whatever the support is—tape or disk or, I don’t know, crystal in ten years or in a hundred years, I don’t know—it’s because movies are strongly related to our feeling of truth.
I want to be surprised as a filmmaker. I was an audience member long before I was ever a director. And so as an audience member I know what I respond to: I like being surprised, I like being respected, I like being challenged, I like being instigated, I like movies that live for me on the screen, that are like friends of mine, and as I go back to them over the course of my life they actually seem to change, and I know that they’re not changing, I know I am changing, but the movies are made open enough that they let me participate in the imagination of the characters in the story.
There are films made to exist as box office results first, or as reviews first, or as expression of the author first. My films are meant to come to life in people’s heads. They are incomplete before, actually they are meant to be incomplete. I see them like open systems that need to be pulled together by somebody. That somebody is each and every spectator. In a way I think of films the same way I looked at stories in books, when I was little. I realized very early on that the story was not in the written words, but in the space between the lines. That’s where the real reading took place: In my imagination, and that happened in all the white between the letters and the lines. And when I started to see films, I approached them the same way. In fact those films allowed me to perceive them like that, they were asking me to dream myself into them. The classic American cinema has that same specific quality, and this is also the great tradition of European Cinema. I did not invent that “method.” It is an endangered process, though, these days. More and more films come as “wall to wall” entertainment. What you see (and hear!) is what you get. No more space between the frames, so to speak. No chance to sneak in with your imagination, to dream on and to project your innermost hopes or fears or desires into what you see and thereby pushing it further. You come out of the theatre and feel strangely empty. For two hours you were prevented from participating. You were obliged to “witness” instead. And that is the opposite to what you called my “method” which is in the true sense of the word “interactive.”
In art you can move from the intimate to the universal. You can make movies that deal with what is going on within yourself, which is part of commonly shared human experience, and simultaneously you can make movies that are open to what happens in the big world around you, that deal with history, with the geo-politics of your time.
I really believe…that if you’re sincere, that people will feel that. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the editing is, or how good or bad the visual style is. If there’s an energy there, it will communicate, and that’s where we have to get…The process is to get to a point where you are engaging, where you are open enough.
Art films aren’t necessarily photography. It’s feeling. If we can capture a feeling of a people, of a way of life, then we made a good picture.
That is what art is. It penetrates your intellect, your mind, and your experience in history has to react on this new information, but you’re reacting from your own persona on it.
I’ve tried very hard to make pictures the best I could. And the thing that I treasure most is their acceptance by an audience. By critics, too, but mostly by an audience. The big thrill is to see a picture work. I’ve tried to make pictures that were about courage, about the goodness and the essential decency of man. Because I think, while they’re not the only form of theatrical entertainment, they’re one of the best. I’ve tried, like everyone, to make stories about conflict and suspense. When you make that work and you make an audience enjoy something for a couple of hours, you feel you’ve made some kind of mark on your own life and other people.
Everyone has the capacity to create and recreate within them. And a film doesn’t exist unless it is seen—if there are no eyes to look at the images, the images don’t exist. When I’ve finished a film, it’s no longer mine—it belongs to the people. I’m nothing more than an intermediary in the process.
Juxtaposing a person with an environment that is boundless, collating him with a countless number of people passing by close to him and far away, relating a person to the whole world, that is the meaning of cinema.